The near infrared presents several new and powerful advantages in the diagnostics of sunspot atmospheres: (1) increased magnetic sensitivity in Zeeman-split lines, (2) increased sensitivity of umbral brightness to temperature, and (3) reduced scattered light and seeing disturbances due to atmospheric turbulence. This has revealed a strong and consistent relationship between sunspot brightness and magnetic field strength.
We have made spatial/spectral observations of sunspots in the highly sensitive (g = 3) Fe I line at λ = 1.5649 μm to compare field strengths with continuum intensities. We find a characteristic but nonlinear relationship between magnetic field strength, B, and brightness temperature, T
, in sunspots. In umbrae there is an approximately linear relation between B
2 and T