Dynamic Variations at the Base of the Solar Convection Zone

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Science  31 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5462, pp. 2456-2460
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5462.2456

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We have detected changes in the rotation of the sun near the base of its convective envelope, including a prominent variation with a period of 1.3 years at low latitudes. Such helioseismic probing of the deep solar interior has been enabled by nearly continuous observation of its oscillation modes with two complementary experiments. Inversion of the global-mode frequency splittings reveals that the largest temporal changes in the angular velocity Ω are of the order of 6 nanohertz and occur above and below the tachocline that separates the sun's differentially rotating convection zone (outer 30% by radius) from the nearly uniformly rotating deeper radiative interior beneath. Such changes are most pronounced near the equator and at high latitudes and are a substantial fraction of the average 30-nanohertz difference in Ω with radius across the tachocline at the equator. The results indicate variations of rotation close to the presumed site of the solar dynamo, which may generate the 22-year cycles of magnetic activity.

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