Properties of umbral dots as measured from the New Solar Telescope data and MHD simulations

A. Kilcik, V. B. Yurchyshyn, M. Rempel, V. Abramenko, R. Kitai, P. R. Goode, Wenda Cao, H. Watanabe

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19 Scopus citations


We studied bright umbral dots (UDs) detected in a moderate size sunspot and compared their statistical properties to recent MHD models. The study is based on high-resolution data recorded by the New Solar Telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory and three-dimensional (3D) MHD simulations of sunspots. Observed UDs, living longer than 150s, were detected and tracked in a 46minute long data set, using an automatic detection code. A total of 1553 (620) UDs were detected in the photospheric (low chromospheric) data. Our main findings are (1) none of the analyzed UDs is precisely circular, (2) the diameter-intensity relationship only holds in bright umbral areas, and (3) UD velocities are inversely related to their lifetime. While nearly all photospheric UDs can be identified in the low chromospheric images, some small closely spaced UDs appear in the low chromosphere as a single cluster. Slow-moving and long-living UDs seem to exist in both the low chromosphere and photosphere, while fast-moving and short-living UDs are mainly detected in the photospheric images. Comparison to the 3D MHD simulations showed that both types of UDs display, on average, very similar statistical characteristics. However, (1) the average number of observed UDs per unit area is smaller than that of the model UDs, and (2) on average, the diameter of model UDs is slightly larger than that of observed ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number163
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Sun: atmosphere
  • Sun: chromosphere
  • Sun: photosphere
  • sunspots


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