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Volume 441, Number 1, October I 2005
Page(s) 347 - 352
Section The Sun
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20053201

A&A 441, 347-352 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20053201

Preferred sunspot longitudes: non-axisymmetry and differential rotation

I. G. Usoskin1, S. V. Berdyugina2, 3 and J. Poutanen2

1  Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (Oulu unit), 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
    e-mail: ilya.usoskin@oulu.fi
2  Astronomy Division, PO Box 3000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
    e-mail: juri.poutanen@oulu.fi
3  Institut für Astronomie, ETHZ, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
    e-mail: sveta@astro.phys.ethz.ch

(Received 6 April 2005 / Accepted 15 June 2005)

As recently found, the distribution of sunspots is non-axisymmetric and spot group formation implies the existence of two persistent active longitudes separated by 180°. Here we quantitatively study the non-axisymmetry of sunspot occurrence. In a dynamic reference frame inferred from the differential rotation law, the raw sunspot data show a clear clustering around the persistent active longitudes. The differential rotation describing the dynamic frame is quantified in terms of the equatorial angular velocity and the differential rotation rate, which appear to be significantly different from those for individual sunspots. This implies that the active longitudes are not linked to the depth of sunspot anchoring. In order to quantify the observed effect, we introduce a measure of the non-axisymmetry of the sunspot distribution. The non-axisymmetric component is found to be highly significant, and the ratio of its strength to that of the axisymmetric one is roughly 1:10. This provides additional constraints for solar dynamo models.

Key words: Sun: activity -- Sun: magnetic fields -- Sun: sunspots

© ESO 2005