Vortex Flows in the Solar Atmosphere: Automated Identification and Statistical Analysis

Ioannis Giagkiozis, Viktor Fedun, Eamon Scullion, David B. Jess, Gary Verth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Vortices on the photosphere are fundamentally important as these coherent flows have the potential to form coherent magnetic field structures in the solar atmosphere, e.g., twisted magnetic flux tubes. These flows have traditionally been identified by tracking magnetic bright points (BPs) using primarily visual inspection. This approach has the shortcoming that it introduces bias into the statistical analyses. In this work we fully automate the process of vortex identification using an established method from hydrodynamics for the study of eddies in turbulent flows. For the first time, we apply this to detect intergranular photospheric intensity vortices. Using this automated approach, we find that the expected lifetime of intensity vortices is much shorter (≈17 s) compared with previously observed magnetic BP swirls. We suggest that at any time there are 1.48 × 10^6 such small-scale intensity vortices covering about 2.8% of the total surface of the solar photosphere. Lastly, we compare our results with previous works and speculate what this could imply with regards to estimating the global energy flux due magnetic tornadoes in the solar atmosphere with future higher resolution instrumentation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number169
Number of pages8
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2018


  • Sun: atmosphere
  • Sun: oscillations
  • Sun: photosphere


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