Active Region Magnetic Fields. I. Plage Fields

Martinez Pillet, V.; Lites, B. W.; Skumanich, A.
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Astrophysical Journal v.474, p.810

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We present observations taken with the Advanced Stokes Polarimeter (ASP) in active-region plages and study the frequency distribution of the magnetic field strength (B), inclination with respect to vertical ( gamma ), azimuthal orientation ( chi ), and filling factor (f). The most common values at disk center are B = 1400 G, gamma < 10 deg, no preferred east-west orientation, and f = 15%. At disk center, there is a component of weak (<1000 G), more horizontal fields that corresponds to arching field lines connecting footpoints of different polarities. The center-to-limb variation (CLV) of the field strength shows that, close to the limb ( mu = 0.3), the field strength is reduced to 800 G from its disk-center value. This can be interpreted as a gradient of B with height in solar plages of around -3 G km-1. From this CLV study, we also deduce that magnetic field lines remain vertical for the entire range of heights involved. A similar analysis is performed for structures found in active regions that show a continuous distribution of azimuths (resembling sunspots) but that do not have a darkening in continuum. These "azimuth centers" show slightly larger values of B than normal plages, in particular at their magnetic center. Filling factors are also larger on average for these structures. The velocities in the magnetic component of active regions have been studied for both averaged Stokes profiles over the entire active region and for the spatially resolved data. The averaged profiles (more representative of high filling factor regions) do not show any significant mean velocities. However, the spatial average of Doppler velocities derived from the spatially resolved profiles (i.e., unweighted by filling factor) show a net redshift at disk center of 200 m s-1. The spatially resolved velocities show a strong dependence on filling factor. Both mean velocities and standard deviations are reduced when the filling factor increases. This is interpreted as a reduction of the p-mode amplitude within the magnetic component. Strong evidence for velocities transverse to the magnetic field lines has been found. Typical rms values are between 200 and 300 m s-1, depending on the filling factor. The possible importance of these transverse motions for the dynamics of the upper atmospheric layers is discussed. The asymmetries of the Stokes profiles and their CLV have been studied. The averaged Stokes V profiles show amplitude and area asymmetries that are positive at disk center and become negative at the limb. Both asymmetries, and for the two Fe I lines, are maximized away from disk center. The spatially resolved amplitude asymmetries show a clear dependence on filling factor: the larger the filling factor, the smaller the amplitude asymmetry. On the other hand, the area asymmetry is almost independent of the filling factor. The only observed dependence is the existence of negative area-asymmetry profiles at disk center for filling factors smaller than 0.2. Around 20% of the observed points in a given plage have negative area asymmetry. The amplitude asymmetry of Stokes V is, on the other hand, always positive. The amplitude asymmetries of the linear polarization profiles are observed to have the same sign as the Stokes V profiles. Similarly, the same CLV variation of the linear polarization amplitude asymmetries as for Stokes V has been found. The scenarios in which this similarity can exist are studied in some detail.