Anomalously weak solar convection

Shravan Hanasoge, Thomas L. Duvall, Katepalli Sreenivasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Convection in the solar interior is thought to comprise structures on a spectrum of scales. This conclusion emerges from phenomenological studies and numerical simulations, though neither covers the proper range of dynamical parameters of solar convection. Here, we analyze observations of the wavefield in the solar photosphere using techniques of time-distance helioseismology to image flows in the solar interior. We downsample and synthesize 900 billion wavefield observations to produce 3 billion cross-correlations, which we average and fit, measuring 5 million wave travel times. Using these travel times, we deduce the underlying flow systems and study their statistics to bound convective velocity magnitudes in the solar interior, as a function of depth and spherical-harmonic degree ℓ. Within the wavenumber band ℓ < 60, convective velocities are 20-100 times weaker than current theoretical estimates. This constraint suggests the prevalence of a different paradigm of turbulence from that predicted by existing models, prompting the question: what mechanism transports the heat flux of a solar luminosity outwards? Advection is dominated by Coriolis forces for wavenumbers ℓ < 60, with Rossby numbers smaller than approximately 10-2 at r/R = 0.96, suggesting that the Sun may be a much faster rotator than previously thought, and that large-scale convection may be quasi-geostrophic. The fact that isorotation contours in the Sun are not coaligned with the axis of rotation suggests the presence of a latitudinal entropy gradient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11928-11932
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume109
Issue number30
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 24 2012

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Convection
Solar System
Coriolis Force
Entropy
Hot Temperature

Keywords

  • Imaging
  • Inverse problem
  • Reynolds stresses
  • Thermal wind balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Anomalously weak solar convection. / Hanasoge, Shravan; Duvall, Thomas L.; Sreenivasan, Katepalli.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 109, No. 30, 24.07.2012, p. 11928-11932.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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