Observation of Differential Rotation Within a Sunspot Umbra During an X-Class Flare

Richard Grimes, Balázs Pintér, Huw Morgan

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Sunspots and their dynamics dominate the magnetic topology and evolution of both the photosphere and the overlying coronal active regions. Thus a comprehensive understanding of their behaviour is essential to understanding the solar magnetic field. A new technique is presented for applying multiple ellipse fits as a method for rotation tracking of sunspot umbrae. The method is applied to a sunspot in NOAA active region AR 12158 during an X-class flare event and the resulting rotation rate correlates well with other measurements from literature. The method also reveals an apparent difference in rotation rate between the edge and the innermost region of the sunspot umbra of up to 2 degrees per hour. Such differential rotation must lead to the large-scale twisting of sunspot magnetic flux tubes with implications for models of coronal loops and the build-up of instabilities that may lead to eruptions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number87
Number of pages8
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • Sunspots
  • Differential rotation
  • Solar flare
  • Photosphere


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