The radial gradient of the near-surface shear layer of the Sun

A. Barekat, J. Schou, L. Gizon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context. Helioseismology has provided unprecedented information about the internal rotation of the Sun. One of the important achievements was the discovery of two radial shear layers: one near the bottom of the convection zone (the tachocline) and one near the surface. These shear layers may be important ingredients for explaining the magnetic cycle of the Sun. Aims. We measure the logarithmic radial gradient of the rotation rate (dlnΩ/dlnr) near the surface of the Sun using 15 years of f mode rotational frequency splittings from the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) and four years of data from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI). Methods. We model the angular velocity of the Sun in the upper ~10 Mm as changing linearly with depth and use a multiplicative optimally localized averaging inversion to infer the gradient of the rotation rate as a function of latitude. Results. Both the MDI and HMI data show that dlnΩ/dlnr is close to-1 from the equator to 60° latitude and stays negative up to 75°latitude. However, the value of the gradient is different for MDI and HMI for latitudes above 60°. Additionally, there is a significant difference between the value of dlnΩ/dlnr using an older and recently reprocessed MDI data for latitudes above 30°. Conclusions. We could reliably infer the value of dlnΩ/dlnr up to 60°, but not above this latitude, which will hopefully constrain theories of the near-surface shear layer and dynamo. Furthermore, the recently reprocessed MDI splitting data are more reliable than the older versions which contained clear systematic errors in the high degree f modes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL12
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Sun: helioseismology
  • Sun: interior
  • Sun: rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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