Volume 567, July 2014
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Published online||17 July 2014|
Reversals of the solar magnetic dipole in the light of observational data and simple dynamo models
Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics RAS,
2 School of Mathematics, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
3 Department of Physics, Moscow University, 119992 Moscow, Russia
4 W.W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305, USA
Accepted: 18 June 2014
Context. Observations show that the photospheric solar magnetic dipole usually does not vanish during the reversal of the solar magnetic field, which occurs in each solar cycle. In contrast, mean-field solar dynamo models predict that the dipole field does become zero. In a recent paper it was suggested that this contradiction could be explained as a large-scale manifestation of small-scale magnetic fluctuations of the surface poloidal field.
Aims. Our aim is to confront this interpretation with the available observational data.
Methods. Here we compare this interpretation with Wilcox Solar Observatory (WSO) photospheric magnetic field data in order to determine the amplitude of magnetic fluctuations required to explain the phenomenon and to compare the results with predictions from a simple dynamo model which takes these fluctuations into account.
Results. We demonstrate that the WSO data concerning the magnetic dipole reversals are very similar to the predictions from our very simple solar dynamo model, which includes both mean magnetic field and fluctuations. The ratio between the rms value of the magnetic fluctuations and the mean field is estimated to be about 2, in reasonable agreement with estimates from sunspot data. The reversal epoch, during which the fluctuating contribution to the dipole is larger than that from the mean field, is about 4 months. The memory time of the fluctuations is about 2 months. Observations demonstrate that the rms of the magnetic fluctuations is strongly modulated by the phase of the solar cycle. This gives additional support to the concept that the solar magnetic field is generated by a single dynamo mechanism rather than also by independent small-scale dynamo action. A suggestion of a weak nonaxisymmetric magnetic field of a fluctuating nature arises from the analysis, with a lifetime of about 1 year.
Conclusions. The behaviour of the magnetic dipole during the reversal epoch gives valuable information about details of solar dynamo action.
Key words: Sun: magnetic fields / Sun: activity / magnetic fields
© ESO, 2014
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