The corrugated umbra model

Vasco Henriques

Hosted by Rosseland Centre for Solar Physics, Norway on February 11, 2021


The chromosphere of the umbra of sunspots is a remarkably dynamic layer featuring extremely fine sub-arcsec structure. Such structures appear dark against enveloping umbral flashes, but also bright before or after a flash, other features still are bright throughout. Only recently did we start understanding such fine features and semi-empirical modelling is converging with simulations to provide insight, not only into such fine structure, but also into the umbral flash phenomenon itself. The observational evidence weighs overwhelmingly towards a strong corrugation of the umbra where the material in short dynamic fibrils over-extends in a column of upflowing material while the adjacent areas flash. The delayed small-scale umbral brightenings at the bottom of such columns are an out-of-phase flash where the late-stage downflowing column meets the upflowing under-layers. Recent inversions using NICOLE at both umbral flashes and small-scale brightenings result in a downflow over upflow stratification perfectly bridging the transition of downflowing fibrils to upflowing fibrils as well as red-shifted absorption cores to blue-shifted absorption cores in the broader surroundings. Locally, each inverted column is remarkably similar in velocity profile to those from forward modelling, provided the formation height of the observed Ca II 8542 line is slightly lower in the Sun than in the simulations. Conspicuously, resonant cavities naturally cause the upper downflowing layers to become visible in forward modelling and the top-layer downflows to last longer than otherwise. Open questions, and how these can be addressed by future observations, are briefly discussed.