Vol. 8 (2011) > lrsp-2011-3

doi: 10.12942/lrsp-2011-3
Living Rev. Solar Phys. 8 (2011), 3

Sunspot Modeling: From Simplified Models to Radiative MHD Simulations

1 High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder CO 80307, USA
2 Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik, Schöneckstr.6, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany

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Article Abstract

We review our current understanding of sunspots from the scales of their fine structure to their large scale (global) structure including the processes of their formation and decay. Recently, sunspot models have undergone a dramatic change. In the past, several aspects of sunspot structure have been addressed by static MHD models with parametrized energy transport. Models of sunspot fine structure have been relying heavily on strong assumptions about flow and field geometry (e.g., flux-tubes, "gaps", convective rolls), which were motivated in part by the observed filamentary structure of penumbrae or the necessity of explaining the substantial energy transport required to maintain the penumbral brightness. However, none of these models could self-consistently explain all aspects of penumbral structure (energy transport, filamentation, Evershed flow). In recent years, 3D radiative MHD simulations have been advanced dramatically to the point at which models of complete sunspots with sufficient resolution to capture sunspot fine structure are feasible. Here overturning convection is the central element responsible for energy transport, filamentation leading to fine-structure and the driving of strong outflows. On the larger scale these models are also in the progress of addressing the subsurface structure of sunspots as well as sunspot formation. With this shift in modeling capabilities and the recent advances in high resolution observations, the future research will be guided by comparing observation and theory.

Keywords: Sunspots, Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)

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Article Citation

Since a Living Reviews in Solar Physics article may evolve over time, please cite the access <date>, which uniquely identifies the version of the article you are referring to:

Matthias Rempel and Rolf Schlichenmaier,
"Sunspot Modeling: From Simplified Models to Radiative MHD Simulations",
Living Rev. Solar Phys. 8,  (2011),  3. URL (cited on <date>):

Article History

ORIGINAL http://www.livingreviews.org/lrsp-2011-3
Title Sunspot Modeling: From Simplified Models to Radiative MHD Simulations
Author Matthias Rempel / Rolf Schlichenmaier
Date accepted 29 July 2011, published 7 September 2011
Date accepted 18 October 2011, published 20 October 2011
Changes Corrected two references. For detailed description see here .
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