Inflows towards active regions and the modulation of the solar cycle: A parameter study
1 Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
2 Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Received: 6 June 2016
Accepted: 30 August 2016
Aims. We aim to investigate how converging flows towards active regions affect the surface transport of magnetic flux, as well as their impact on the generation of the Sun’s poloidal field. The inflows constitute a potential non-linear mechanism for the saturation of the global dynamo and may contribute to the modulation of the solar cycle in the Babcock-Leighton framework.
Methods. We build a surface flux transport code incorporating a parametrized model of the inflows and run simulations spanning several cycles. We carry out a parameter study to assess how the strength and extension of the inflows affect the build-up of the global dipole field. We also perform simulations with different levels of activity to investigate the potential role of the inflows in the saturation of the global dynamo.
Results. We find that the interaction of neighbouring active regions can lead to the occasional formation of single-polarity magnetic flux clumps that are inconsistent with observations. We propose the darkening caused by pores in areas of high magnetic field strength as a possible mechanism preventing this flux-clumping. We find that inflows decrease the amplitude of the axial dipole moment by ~ 30%, relative to a no-inflows scenario. Stronger (weaker) inflows lead to larger (smaller) reductions of the axial dipole moment. The relative amplitude of the generated axial dipole is about 9% larger after very weak cycles than after very strong cycles. This supports the idea that the inflows are a non-linear mechanism that is capable of saturating the global dynamo and contributing to the modulation of the solar cycle within the Babcock-Leighton framework.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: magnetic fields
© ESO, 2016