The purpose of this Letter is to address a blindspot in our knowledge of solar active region (AR) statistics. To the best of our knowledge, there are no published results showing the variation of the Mount Wilson magnetic classifications as a function of solar cycle based on modern observations. We show statistics for all ARs reported in the daily Solar Region Summary from 1992 January 1 to 2015 December 31. We find that the α and β class ARs (including all sub-groups, e.g., βγ, βδ) make up fractions of approximately 20% and 80% of the sample, respectively. This fraction is relatively constant during high levels of activity however, an increase in the α fraction to about 35% and and a decrease in the β fraction to about 65% can be seen near each solar minimum and are statistically significant at the 2σ level. Over 30% of all ARs observed during the years of solar maxima were appended with the classifications γ and/or δ, while these classifications account for only a fraction of a percent during the years near the solar minima. This variation in the AR types indicates that the formation of complex ARs may be due to the pileup of frequent emergence of magnetic flux during solar maximum, rather than the emergence of complex, monolithic flux structures.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- March 2016
- magnetic fields;
- Sun: activity;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- 4 figures, 1 table, accepted for publication in ApJL