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The meridional circulation of the Sun: Observations, theory and connections with the solar dynamo

Choudhuri, AR (2021) The meridional circulation of the Sun: Observations, theory and connections with the solar dynamo. Science in China Press.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11433-020-1628-1


The meridional circulation of the Sun, which is observed to be poleward at the surface, should have a return flow at some depth. Since large-scale flows like the differential rotation and the meridional circulation are driven by turbulent stresses in the convection zone, these flows are expected to remain confined within this zone. Current observational (based on helioseismology) and theoretical (based on dynamo theory) evidences point towards an equatorward return flow of the meridional circulation at the bottom of the convection zone. Assuming the mean values of various quantities averaged over turbulence to be axisymmetric, we study the large-scale flows in solar-like stars on the basis of a 2D mean field theory. Turbulent stresses in a rotating star can transport angular momentum, setting up a differential rotation. The meridional circulation arises from a slight imbalance between two terms which try to drive it in opposite directions: a thermal wind term (arising out of the higher efficiency of convective heat transport in the polar regions) and a centrifugal term (arising out of the differential rotation). To make these terms comparable, the poles of the Sun should be slightly hotter than the equator. We discuss the important role played by the meridional circulation in the flux transport dynamo model. The poloidal field generated by the Babcock-Leighton process at the surface is advected poleward, whereas the toroidal field produced at the bottom of the convection zone is advected equatorward. The fluctuations in the meridional circulation (with coherence time of about 30–40 yr) help in explaining many aspects of the irregularities in the solar cycle. Finally, we discuss how the Lorentz force of the dynamo-generated magnetic field can cause periodic variations in the large-scale flows with the solar cycle.

Item Type: Other
Publication: Science China: Physics, Mechanics and Astronomy
Publisher: Science in China Press
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to the Author.
Keywords: astrophysical plasma; fluid flow: rotational; solar physics; Sun: helioseismology; Sun: solar magnetism
Department/Centre: Division of Physical & Mathematical Sciences > Physics
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2023 05:02
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2023 05:02
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/82709

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