Convectively driven vortex flows in the Sun
We have discovered small whirlpools in the Sun, with a size similar to the terrestrial hurricanes (<0.5 Mm). The theory of solar convection predicts them, but they had remained elusive so far. The vortex flows are created at the downdrafts where the plasma returns to the solar interior after cooling down, and we detect them because some magnetic bright points (BPs) follow a logarithmic spiral in their way to be engulfed by a downdraft. Our disk center observations show 0.009 vortexes per Mm2, with a lifetime of the order of 5 min, and with no preferred sense of rotation. They are not evenly spread out over the surface, but they seem to trace the supergranulation and the mesogranulation. These observed properties are strongly biased by our type of measurement, unable to detect vortexes except when they are engulfing magnetic BPs.
About the talk
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain
For published article see J. Bonet et al. 2008, 687, L131
About the speaker
See their interview at the IAC.