Limits on radial differential rotation in Sun-like stars from parametric fits to oscillation power spectra

M. B. Nielsen, H. Schunker, L. Gizon, J. Schou, W. H. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context. Rotational shear in Sun-like stars is thought to be an important ingredient in models of stellar dynamos. Thanks to helioseismology, rotation in the Sun is characterized well, but the interior rotation profiles of other Sun-like stars are not so well constrained. Until recently, measurements of rotation in Sun-like stars have focused on the mean rotation, but little progress has been made on measuring or even placing limits on differential rotation. Aims. Using asteroseismic measurements of rotation we aim to constrain the radial shear in five Sun-like stars observed by the NASA Kepler mission: KIC 004914923, KIC 005184732, KIC 006116048, KIC 006933899, and KIC 010963065. Methods. We used stellar structure models for these five stars from previous works. These models provide the mass density, mode eigenfunctions, and the convection zone depth, which we used to compute the sensitivity kernels for the rotational frequency splitting of the modes. We used these kernels as weights in a parametric model of the stellar rotation profile of each star, where we allowed different rotation rates for the radiative interior and the convective envelope. This parametric model was incorporated into a fit to the oscillation power spectrum of each of the five Kepler stars. This fit included a prior on the rotation of the envelope, estimated from the rotation of surface magnetic activity measured from the photometric variability. Results. The asteroseismic measurements without the application of priors are unable to place meaningful limits on the radial shear. Using a prior on the envelope rotation enables us to constrain the interior rotation rate and thus the radial shear. In the five cases that we studied, the interior rotation rate does not differ from the envelope by more than approximately ± 30%. Uncertainties in the rotational splittings are too large to unambiguously determine the sign of the radial shear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA6
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Asteroseismology
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Stars: rotation
  • Stars: solar-type
  • Starspots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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