Anomalous Solar Rotation in the Early 17th Century

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Science  25 Nov 1977:
Vol. 198, Issue 4319, pp. 824-829
DOI: 10.1126/science.198.4319.824


The character of solar rotation has been examined for two periods in the early 17th century for which detailed sunspot drawings are available: A.D. 1625 through 1626 and 1642 through 1644. The first period occurred 20 years before the start of the Maunder sunspot minimum, 1645 through 1715; the second occurred just at its commencement. Solar rotation in the earlier period was much like that of today. In the later period, the equatorial velocity of the sun was faster by 3 to 5 percent and the differential rotation was enhanced by a factor of 3. The equatorial acceleration with declining solar activity is in the same sense as that found in recent Doppler data. It seems likely that the change in rotation of the solar surface between 1625 and 1645 was associated with the onset of the Maunder Minimum.