ANCHOR DEPTHS OF FLUX ELEMENTS AND DEPTHS OF FLUX SOURCES IN RELATION TO THE TWO ROTATION PROFILES OF THE SUN'S SURFACE MAGNETIC FIELDS

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Abstract

It is known for over two decades now that the rotation of the photospheric magnetic fields determined by two different methods of correlation analysis leads to two vastly differing rotation laws – one the differential and the other rigid rotation. Snodgrass and Smith (2001) reexamining this puzzle show that the averaging of the correlation amplitudes can tilt the final profile in favour of rigid rotation whenever the contribution of the rigidly rotating large-scale magnetic structures (the plumes) to the correlation dominates over that of the differentially rotating small-scale and mesoscale features. We present arguments to show that the large-scale unipolar structures in latitudes >40 deg, which also show rigid rotation (Stenflo, 1989), are formed mainly from the intranetwork magnetic elements (abbreviated as IN elements). We then estimate the anchor depths of the various surface magnetic elements as locations of the Sun's internal plasma layers that rotate at the same rate as the flux elements, using the rotation rates of the internal plasma layers given by helioseismology. We infer that the anchor depths of the flux broken off from the decay of sunspot active regions (the small-scale and mesoscale features that constitute the plumes) are located in the shallow layers close to the solar surface. From a similar comparison with helioseismic rotation rates we infer that the rigid rotation of the large-scale unipolar regions in high latitudes could only be coming from plasma layers at a radial distance of about 0.66 – 0.68 R⊙ from the Sun's centre. Using Stenflo's (1991) ‘balloon man’ analogy, we interpret these layers as the source of the magnetic flux of the IN elements. If so, the IN flux elements seem to constitute a fundamental component of solar magnetism.

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