Local-area helioseismology as a diagnostic tool for solar variability

A. G. Kosovichev, T. L. Duvall, A. C. Birch, L. Gizon, P. H. Scherrer, Junwei Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dynamical and thermal variations of the internal structure of the Sun can affect the energy flow and result in variations in irradiance at the surface. Studying variations in the interior is crucial for understanding the mechanisms of the irradiance variations. “Global” helioseismology based on analysis of normal mode frequencies, has helped to reveal radial and latitudinal variations of the solar structure and dynamics associated with the solar cycle in the deep interior. A new technique, - “local-area” helioseismology or heliotomography, offers additional potentially important diagnostics by providing three-dimensional maps of the sound speed and flows in the upper convection zone. These diagnostics are based on inversion of travel times of acoustic waves which propagate between different points on the solar surface through the interior. The most significant variations in the thermodynamic structure found by this method are associated with sunspots and complexes of solar activity. The inversion results provide evidence for areas of higher sound speed beneath sunspot regions located at depths of 4-20 Mm, which may be due to accumulated heat or magnetic field concentrations. However, the physics of these structuree is not yet understood. Heliotomography also provides information about large-scale stable longitudinal structures in the solar interior, which can be used in irradiance models. This new diagnostic tool for solar variability is currently under development. It will require both a substantial theoretical and modeling effort and high-resolution data to develop new capabilities for understanding mechanisms of solar variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1899-1910
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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