Earlier observational studies have used the time evolution of emerging magnetic flux regions at the photosphere to infer their subsurface structures, assuming that the flux structure does not change significantly over the near-surface layer. In this study, we test the validity of this assumption by comparing the horizontal and vertical motions of an emerging active region. The two motions would be correlated if the emerging structure is rigid. The selected active region (AR) NOAA 11645 is not embedded in detectable preexisting magnetic field. The observed horizontal motion is quantified by the separation of the two AR polarities and the width of the region. The vertical motion is derived from the magnetic buoyancy theory. Our results show that the separation of the polarities is fastest at the beginning with a velocity of (Formula presented.) and decreases to (Formula presented.) after the main growing phase of flux emergence. The derived thick flux-tube buoyant velocity is between 1 and (Formula presented.) , while the thin flux-tube approximation results in an unreasonably high buoyant velocity, consistent with the expectation that the approximation is inappropriate at the surface layer. The observed horizontal motion is not found to directly correlate with either the magnetic field strength or the derived buoyant velocities. However, the percentage of the horizontally oriented fields and the temporal derivatives of the field strength and the buoyant velocity show some positive correlations with the separation velocity. The results of this study imply that the assumption that the emerging active region is the cross section of a rising flux tube whose structure can be considered rigid as it rises through the near-surface layer should be taken with caution.
- Active regions, magnetic fields
- Active regions, models
- Active regions, structure
- Active regions, velocity field