Sudden photospheric motion and sunspot rotation associated with the X2.2 flare on 2011 february 15

Shuo Wang, Chang Liu, Na Deng, Haimin Wang

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41 Scopus citations


The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager provides 45 s cadence intensity images and 720 s cadence vector magnetograms. These unprecedented high-cadence and high-resolution data give us a unique opportunity to study the change of photospheric flows and sunspot rotations associated with flares. By using the differential affine velocity estimator method and the Fourier local correlation tracking method separately, we calculate velocity and vorticity of photospheric flows in the flaring NOAA AR 11158, and investigate their temporal evolution around the X2.2 flare on 2011 February 15. It is found that the shear flow around the flaring magnetic polarity inversion line exhibits a sudden decrease, and both of the two main sunspots undergo a sudden change in rotational motion during the impulsive phase of the flare. These results are discussed in the context of the Lorentz-force change that was proposed by Hudson et al. and Fisher et al. This mechanism can explain the connections between the rapid and irreversible photospheric vector magnetic field change and the observed short-term motions associated with the flare. In particular, the torque provided by the horizontal Lorentz force change agrees with what is required for the measured angular acceleration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL31
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Sun: activity
  • Sun: flares
  • Sun: photosphere
  • sunspots


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