Constructing Semi-Empirical Sunspot Models for Helioseismology

R. H. Cameron, L. Gizon, H. Schunker, A. Pietarila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One goal of helioseismology is to determine the subsurface structure of sunspots. In order to do so, it is important to understand first the near-surface effects of sunspots on solar waves, which are dominant. Here we construct simplified, cylindrically-symmetric sunspot models that are designed to capture the magnetic and thermodynamics effects coming from about 500 km below the quiet-Sun τ5000=1 level to the lower chromosphere. We use a combination of existing semi-empirical models of sunspot thermodynamic structure (density, temperature, pressure): the umbral model of Maltby et al. (1986, Astrophys. J. 306, 284) and the penumbral model of Ding and Fang (1989, Astron. Astrophys. 225, 204). The OPAL equation-of-state tables are used to derive the sound-speed profile. We smoothly merge the near-surface properties to the quiet-Sun values about 1 Mm below the surface. The umbral and penumbral radii are free parameters. The magnetic field is added to the thermodynamic structure, without requiring magnetostatic equilibrium. The ver0is solenoidal and determined by the on-axis vertical field, which, at the surface, is chosen such that the field inclination is 45° at the umbral - penumbral boundary. We construct a particular sunspot model based on SOHO/MDI observations of the sunspot in active region NOAA 9787. The helioseismic signature of the model sunspot is studied using numerical simulations of the propagation of f, p1, and p2 wave packets. These simulations are compared against cross-covariances of the observed wave field. We find that the sunspot model gives a helioseismic signature that is similar to the observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-308
Number of pages16
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Sun: helioseismology
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Sun: sunspots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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