Hinode observations reveal boundary layers of magnetic elements
in the solar photosphere
Aims. We study the structure of magnetic elements of network-cell
Methods. A quiet Sun area close to the disc centre was observed with
the spectro-polarimeter of the Solar Optical Telescope on board
of the Hinode space mission, which yielded the best ever achieved
spatial resolution in polarimetric data of the Fe I 630 nm line pair.
For comparison and interpretation, we synthesize a similar data set
from a three-dimensional magneto-hydrodynamic simulation.
Results. Wend several examples of magnetic elements, either roundish
(tube) or elongated (sheet), which show a central area
of negative Stokes-V area asymmetry framed or surrounded by a
peripheral area with larger positive asymmetry. This pattern was
predicted on the basis of numerical simulations some eight years
ago. Here, we observationally corm its existence for therst time.
Conclusions. We gather convincing evidence that this pattern of
Stokes-V area asymmetry is caused by the funnel-shaped boundary
of magnetic elements that separates the x concentration from the
weakeld environment. On this basis, we conclude that electric
current sheets induced by such magnetic boundary layers are common in
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