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Solar Physics

, Volume 239, Issue 1–2, pp 41–68

First Online: 05 December 2006Received: 11 July 2006Accepted: 20 October 2006


The strongest observed solar magnetic fields are found in sunspot umbrae and associated light bridges. We investigate systematic measurements of approximately 32 000 sunspot groups observed from 1917 through 2004 using data from Mt. Wilson, Potsdam, Rome and Crimea observatories. Isolated observations from other observatories are also included. Corrections to Mt. Wilson measurements are required and applied. We found 55 groups 0.2% with at least one sunspot with one magnetic field measurement of at least 4000 G including five measurements of at least 5000 G and one spot with a record field of 6100 G. Although typical strong-field spots are large and show complex structure in white light, others are simple in form. Sometimes the strongest fields are in light bridges that separate opposite polarity umbras. The distribution of strongest measured fields above 3 kG appears to be continuous, following a steep power law with exponent about −9.5. The observed upper limit of 5 – 6 kG is consistent with the idea that an umbral field has a more or less coherent structure down to some depth and then fragments. We find that odd-numbered sunspot cycles usually contain about 30% more total sunspot groups but 60% fewer >3 kG spots than preceding even-numbered cycles.

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Autor: W. Livingston - J. W. Harvey - O. V. Malanushenko - L. Webster


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