Seismic sensitivity of normal-mode coupling to Lorentz stresses in the Sun

Shravan M. Hanasoge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the governing mechanism of solar magnetism remains an outstanding challenge in astrophysics. Seismology is the most compelling technique to infer the internal properties of the Sun and stars. Waves in the Sun, nominally acoustic, are sensitive to the emergence and cyclical strengthening of magnetic field, evidenced by measured changes in resonant oscillation frequencies that are correlated with the solar cycle. The inference of internal Lorentz stresses from these measurements has the potential to significantly advance our appreciation of the dynamo. Indeed, seismological inverse theory for the Sun is well understood for perturbations in composition, thermal structure and flows but, is not fully developed for magnetism, owing to the complexity of the ideal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) equation. Invoking first-Born perturbation theory to characterize departures from spherically symmetric hydrostatic models of the Sun and applying the notation of generalized spherical harmonics, we calculate sensitivity functions of seismicmeasurements to the general time-varying Lorentz stress tensor. We find that eigenstates of isotropic (i.e. acoustic only) background models are dominantly sensitive to isotropic deviations in the stress tensor and much more weakly than anisotropic stresses (and therefore challenging to infer). The apple cannot fall far from the tree.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2780-2790
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 21 2017


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Sun: helioseismology
  • Sun: interior
  • Sun: oscilla-tions
  • Waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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