planet-sized regions of intense magnetic fields. But what lies below? Using observations from the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) instrument aboard the space-based SOHO observatory, astronomers have derived this premier picture of the flow of material just beneath a visible sunspot. The MDI data indicate that immediately under the sunspot a strong inflowing current exists, shown above by the dark arrows. This converging undertow pulls near-surface material toward the spot and prevents the concentrated magnetic fields from flying apart, like repelling poles of iron magnets. Such a configuration appears to divert the normal flow of plasma bubbling up from the solar interior, creating a self-sustaining sunspot. The MDI instrument can explore the properties of the solar interior by detecting motions produced by sound waves as they interact at the solar surface.
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings, and Disclaimers
NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.
Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day
Publications with keywords: Sun - sunspot - magnetic field - mdi
Publications with words: Sun - sunspot - magnetic field - mdi