Investigating Sub-Pixel 45-Second Periodic Wobble in SDO/AIA Data from January to August 2012

Yuan, Ding, Liu, Wei and Walsh, Robert William orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1025-9863 (2018) Investigating Sub-Pixel 45-Second Periodic Wobble in SDO/AIA Data from January to August 2012. Solar Physics, 293 . ISSN 0038-0938

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Artifacts could mislead interpretations in astrophysical observations. A thorough understanding of an instrument will help in distinguishing physical processes from artifacts. In this article, we investigate an artifact of the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) onboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Time-series data and wavelet spectra revealed periodic intensity perturbations in small regions over the entire image in certain AIA extreme ultraviolet (EUV) passbands at a period of about 45 seconds. These artificial intensity variations are prominently detected in regions with sharp intensity contrast, such as sunspot light bridges. This artifact was caused by a periodic pointing wobble of the two AIA telescopes ATA 2 (193 and 211 Å channels) and ATA 3 (171 Å and UV channels), to a lesser extent, while the other two telescopes were not found to be affected. The peak-to-peak amplitude of the wobble was about 0.2 pixel in ATA 2 and 0.1 pixel in ATA 3. This artifact was intermittent and affected the data of seven months from 18 January to 28 August 2012, as a result of a thermal adjustment to the telescopes. We recommend that standard pointing-correction techniques, such as local correlation tracking, should be applied before any detailed scientific analysis that requires sub-pixel pointing accuracy. Specifically, this artificial 45-second periodicity was falsely interpreted as abnormal sub-minute oscillations in a light bridge of a sunspot (Yuan and Walsh in Astron. Astrophys.594, A101, 2016).

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