Automatic vs. Human Detection of Bipolar Magnetic Regions: Using the Best of Both Worlds
Abstract:The solar cycle can be understood as a process that alternates the large-scale magnetic field of the Sun between poloidal and toroidal configurations. Although the process that transitions the solar cycle between toroidal and poloidal phases is still not fully understood, theoretical studies, and observational evidence, suggest that this process is driven by the emergence and decay of bipolar magnetic regions (BMRs) at the photosphere. Furthermore, the emergence of BMRs at the photosphere is the main driver behind solar variability and solar activity in general; making the study of their properties doubly important for heliospheric physics. However, in spite of their critical role, there is still no unified catalog of BMRs spanning multiple instruments and covering the entire period of systematic measurement of the solar magnetic field (i.e. 1975 to present).
One of the interesting aspects of the detection of BMRs is that, due to the time and spatial scales of interest, it is tractable for both human observers and automatic detection algorithms. This makes it ideal for comparative studies of the advantages and failing of both approaches. In this presentation we will compare three different BMR catalogs, reduced from magnetograms taken by SOHO/MDI, using human, automatic, and hybrid methods of detection. The focus will be the comparative performance between the three methods, their merits, and disadvantages, and the lessons that can be applied to other imaging data sets.