Asteroseismic detection of latitudinal differential rotation in 13 Sun-like stars

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Science  21 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6408, pp. 1231-1234
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6571

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Stellar oscillations show differential rotation

The Sun rotates faster at its equator than at its poles. This process is known as differential rotation and is seen in the motion of sunspots. Helioseismology has shown that the effect extends into the Sun's interior. It has not been possible to measure whether other stars also experience equivalent differential rotation. Benomar et al. used the Kepler spacecraft to monitor stellar oscillations of a group of Sun-like stars. By decomposing the oscillations into separate frequencies, they searched for signs of differential rotation. Several stars do indeed seem to have equators that spin faster than their poles, and none indicated the opposite pattern.

Science, this issue p. 1231


The differentially rotating outer layers of stars are thought to play a role in driving their magnetic activity, but the underlying mechanisms that generate and sustain differential rotation are poorly understood. We report the measurement using asteroseismology of latitudinal differential rotation in the convection zones of 40 Sun-like stars. For the most significant detections, the stars’ equators rotate approximately twice as fast as their midlatitudes. The latitudinal shear inferred from asteroseismology is much larger than predictions from numerical simulations.

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