Sunspots in 3D - Multimedia Gallery

 

Multimedia Gallery

 

For the first time, NCAR scientists and colleagues have modeled the complex structure of sunspots in a comprehensive 3D computer simulation, giving scientists their first glimpse below the visible surface, or photosphere, of the Sun to understand sunspots' underlying physical processes. Recent advances in supercomputing made this groundbreaking numerical simulation possible. The work drew on increasingly detailed observations from a network of ground- and space-based instruments to verify that the model captured sunspots realistically.

On this page: 2 videos | 4 still images

All images must be credited to UCAR and may be reproduced in news stories about NCAR & UCAR activities.

 

Video Animations

 

 

One black and white image, one color of sunspots
A. Two sunspots simulated in 3D by model data, viewed from above and in cross section below the surface

In black and white: Vertical magnetic fields are revealed in this paired sunspot simulation, which shows negative polarity at left (black) and positive polarity at right (white).
In color: A simultaneous cross section view beneath the surface. Lighter/brighter colors indicate stronger magnetic field strength. The same view as a still image is available below (Figure E).

t (elapsed time) is shown in tenths of an hour
10 Mm (length of bar) = 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)

Technical data: Vertical magnetic field component in the photosphere. Value range: between -3.5 kG (black) and 3.5 kG (white). Subsurface: magnetic field strength (color saturated at 8 kG), vertical scale enlarged by a factor of 2.

(©UCAR. Visualization by Matthias Rempel, NCAR, and colleagues.) News media terms of use*
Four visualizations, one black and white, three color
B. Close-up in 3D: Transition from inner umbra region to outer penumbra region in one sunspot

These four simulations show the transition zone from the umbra (inner region) at right in each image to the penumbra (outer region) at left for a single sunspot. The sunspot's complex processes are modeled in 3D, giving scientists their first glimpse below the visible surface.
t (elapsed time) is shown in minutes
5 Mm: length of bar = 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles)

Technical data: Quantities shown are in the photosphere. Top left: Vertical magnetic field component (white: upward, black: downward); Top right: Field inclination (black: vertical, white: horizontal); Bottom left: Radial flow velocity (red: outflows, blue: inflows); Bottom right: Vertical flow velocity (red: downflows, blue: upflows).

(©UCAR, animation courtesy Matthias Rempel, NCAR.) News media terms of use*

 

Still Images/Photos

Visualization in shades of red, black and gray of a sunspot
C. Transition from umbra to penumbra shows changes in magnetic field

The interface between a sunspot's umbra (dark center) and penumbra (lighter outer region) shows a complex structure with narrow, almost horizontal (lighter to white) filaments embedded in a background having a more vertical (darker to black) magnetic field. Farther out, extended patches of horizontal field dominate. For the first time, NCAR scientists and colleagues have modeled this complex structure in a comprehensive 3D computer simulation, giving scientists their first glimpse below the visible surface to understand the underlying physical processes. [ENLARGE]

10 Mm: length of bar = 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)

Technical data: Inclination angle of the magnetic field in the photosphere (right spot in simulation). Gray indicates regions with field strength < 200 G.

(©UCAR, image courtesy Matthias Rempel, NCAR.) News media terms of use*
Color image of outward flow of plasma in sunspot
D. Outward flow from a sunspot

The movement of plasma, which is ionized gas, outward from a sunspot (mass flow). Scientists simulated this physical process in a computer model running on NCAR's "bluefire" supercomputer. In this visualization of the model, red areas show outflow from the inner towards the outer edge of the penumbra, with strongest color showing a rate of nearly 5 miles per second (8 kilometers per second). [ENLARGE]

10 Mm: length of bar = 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)

Technical data: Radial flow velocity in photosphere. The color scale is saturated at +/- 8 km/s; red colors show outflows. The ring of red colored patches surrounding the spot shows the Evershed flow.

(©UCAR, image courtesy Matthias Rempel, NCAR.) News media terms of use*

 

Visualization in shades of red and black of a sunspot beneath the surface
E. View beneath the surface of simulated sunspot pair: Subsurface magnetic field strength

First view of what goes on below the surface of sunspots. Lighter/brighter colors indicate stronger magnetic field strength in this subsurface cross section of two sunspots. For the first time, NCAR scientists and colleagues have modeled this complex structure in a comprehensive 3D computer simulation, giving scientists their first glimpse below the visible surface to understand the underlying physical processes. An animation of this subsurface cross section is available above (Figure A). This image has been cropped horizontally for display. [ENLARGE & DISPLAY FULL IMAGE]


Scale: Horizontal is 98,000 kilometers (61,000 miles); Vertical is 6,100 kilometers (3,800 miles); this height was doubled relative to the width to show detail.
Technical data: Vertical scale enlarged by a factor of 2. Color saturated at 8 kG.

(©UCAR, image courtesy Matthias Rempel, NCAR.) News media terms of use*

 

 

3D visualization in black with red, blue, and gray lines
F. Magnetic field lines schematic

This 3D schematic highlights some of the magnetic field lines in one sunspot's penumbra. The red field lines show a typical filament in the inner penumbra, green shows a typical filament in the outer penumbra. The anchoring points for the blue field lines were chosen randomly to give the visualization a background field not necessarily associated with the individual filaments shown. This visualization was created using NCAR's VAPOR data discovery platform (Visualization and Analysis Platform for Ocean, Atmosphere, and Solar Researchers). [ENLARGE]

(©UCAR, image courtesy Matthias Rempel, NCAR.) News media terms of use*