Helioseismic studies of differential rotation in the solar envelope by the solar oscillations investigation using the michelson doppler imager

J. Schou, H. M. Antia, S. Basu, R. S. Bogart, R. I. Bush, S. M. Chitre, J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, M. P.D.I. Mauro, W. A. Dziembowski, A. Eff-Darwich, D. O. Gough, D. A. Haber, J. T. Hoeksema, R. Howe, S. G. Korzennik, A. G. Kosovichev, R. M. Larsen, F. P. Pijpers, P. H. Scherrer, T. SekiiT. D. Tarbell, A. M. Title, M. J. Thompson, J. Toomre

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The splitting of the frequencies of the global resonant acoustic modes of the Sun by large-scale flows and rotation permits study of the variation of angular velocity Ω with both radius and latitude within the turbulent convection zone and the deeper radiative interior. The nearly uninterrupted Doppler imaging observations, provided by the Solar Oscillations Investigation (SOI) using the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft positioned at the L1 Lagrangian point in continuous sunlight, yield oscillation power spectra with very high signal-tonoise ratios that allow frequency splittings to be determined with exceptional accuracy. This paper reports on joint helioseismic analyses of solar rotation in the convection zone and in the outer part of the radiative core. Inversions have been obtained for a medium-/ mode set (involving modes of angular degree / extending to about 250) obtained from the first 144 day interval of SOI-MDI observations in 1996. Drawing inferences about the solar internal rotation from the splitting data is a subtle process. By applying more than one inversion technique to the data, we get some indication of what are the more robust and less robust features of our inversion solutions. Here we have used seven different inversion methods. To test the reliability and sensitivity of these methods, we have performed a set of controlled experiments utilizing artificial data. This gives us some confidence in the inferences we can draw from the real solar data. The inversions of SOI-MDI data have confirmed that the decrease of Ω with latitude seen at the surface extends with little radial variation through much of the convection zone, at the base of which is an adjustment layer, called the tachocline, leading to nearly uniform rotation deeper in the radiative interior. A prominent rotational shearing layer in which Ω increases just below the surface is discernible at low to mid latitudes. Using the new data, we have also been able to study the solar rotation closer to the poles than has been achieved in previous investigations. The data have revealed that the angular velocity is distinctly lower at high latitudes than the values previously extrapolated from measurements at lower latitudes based on surface Doppler observations and helioseismology. Furthermore, we have found some evidence near latitudes of 75° of a submerged polar jet which is rotating more rapidly than its immediate surroundings. Superposed on the relatively smooth latitudinal variation in Ω are alternating zonal bands of slightly faster and slower rotation, each extending some 10° to 15° in latitude. These relatively weak banded flows have been followed by inversion to a depth of about 5% of the solar radius and appear to coincide with the evolving pattern of "torsional oscillations" reported from earlier surface Doppler studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-417
Number of pages28
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART I
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Convection
  • Sun: Interior
  • Sun: Oscillations
  • Sun: Rotation


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