Structure and Evolution of Giant Cells in Global Models of Solar Convection


The global scales of solar convection are studied through three-dimensional simulations of compressible convection carried out in spherical shells of rotating fluid which extend from the base of the convection zone to within 15 Mm of the photosphere. Such modelling at the highest spatial resolution to date allows study of distinctly turbulent convection, revealing that coherent downflow structures associated with giant cells continue to play a significant role in maintaining the strong differential rotation that is achieved. These giant cells at lower latitudes exhibit prograde propagation relative to the mean zonal flow, or differential rotation, that they establish, and retrograde propagation of more isotropic structures with vortical character at mid and high latitudes. The interstices of the downflow networks often possess strong and compact cyclonic flows. The evolving giant-cell downflow systems can be partly masked by the intense smaller scales of convection driven closer to the surface, yet they are likely to be detectable with the helioseismic probing that is now becoming available. Indeed, the meandering streams and varying cellular subsurface flows revealed by helioseismology must be sampling contributions from the giant cells, yet it is difficult to separate out these signals from those attributed to the faster horizontal flows of supergranulation. To aid in such detection, we use our simulations to describe how the properties of giant cells may be expected to vary with depth, how their patterns evolve in time, and analyze the statistical features of correlations within these complex flow fields. Subject headings: convection, turbulence, Sun:interior, Sun:rotation

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@inproceedings{Miesch2008StructureAE, title={Structure and Evolution of Giant Cells in Global Models of Solar Convection}, author={Mark S. Miesch and A. S. Brun and M. L. Derosa and J. Toomre}, year={2008} }