Validating Time-Distance Helioseismic Inversions for Nonseparable Subsurface Profiles of an Average Supergranule

Vedant Dhruv, Jishnu Bhattacharya, Shravan M. Hanasoge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Supergranules are divergent 30 Mm-sized cellular flows observed everywhere at the solar photosphere. Their place in the hierarchy of convective structures and their origin remain poorly understood. Estimating supergranular depth is of particular interest because this may help point to the underlying physics. However, their subsurface velocity profiles have proven difficult to ascertain. Birch et al. suggested that helioseismic inferences would benefit from an ensemble average over multiple realizations of supergranules due to the reduction in realization noise. Bhattacharya et al. used synthetic forward-modeled seismic wave travel times and demonstrated the potential of helioseismic inversions to recover the flow profile of an average supergranule that is separable in the horizontal and vertical directions, although the premise of this calculation has since been challenged by Ferret. In this work we avoid this assumption and carry out a validation test of helioseismic travel-time inversions starting from plausible synthetic nonseparable profiles of an average supergranule. We compute seismic wave travel times and sensitivity kernels by simulating wave propagation through this background. We find that, while the ability to recover the exact profile degrades based on the number of parameters involved, we are nevertheless able to recover the peak depth of our models in a few iterations where the measurements are presumably above the noise cutoff. This represents an important step toward unraveling the physics behind supergranules, as we start appreciating the parameters that we may reliably infer from a time-distance helioseismic inversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number136
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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