Measurements of the sun's high-latitude meridional circulation
Hathaway, David H.
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The meridional circulation at high latitudes is crucial to the buildup and reversal of the Sun's polar magnetic fields. Here, we characterize the axisymmetric flows by applying a magnetic feature cross-correlation procedure to high-resolution magnetograms obtained by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory. We focus on Carrington rotations 2096-2107 (2010 April to 2011 March) - the overlap interval between HMI and the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI). HMI magnetograms averaged over 720 s are first mapped into heliographic coordinates. Strips from these maps are then cross-correlated to determine the distances in latitude and longitude that the magnetic element pattern has moved, thus providing meridional flow and differential rotation velocities for each rotation of the Sun. Flow velocities were averaged for the overlap interval and compared to results obtained from MDI data. This comparison indicates that these HMI images are rotated counterclockwise by 0075 with respect to the Sun's rotation axis. The profiles indicate that HMI data can be used to reliably measure these axisymmetric flow velocities to at least within 5° of the poles. Unlike the noisier MDI measurements, no evidence of a meridional flow counter-cell is seen in either hemisphere with the HMI measurements: poleward flow continues all the way to the poles. Slight north-south asymmetries are observed in the meridional flow. These asymmetries should contribute to the observed asymmetries in the polar fields and the timing of their reversals. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.