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  • Cited by 26
  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: August 2009

1 - An introduction to the solar tachocline



The task that I have been assigned is to set the scene for the discussions that follow: to present my view of the principal issues that had confronted us before the meeting when trying to understand the dynamics of the solar tachocline. Most of what I write here is enlarged upon, and in some cases superseded by, the chapters that follow, in which references to most of the original publications can also be found. Nevertheless, I trust that it can serve as a useful elementary introduction to the subject, setting it into its wider astronomical context.

The tachocline is interesting to astrophysicists for a variety of reasons, the most important being (i) that it couples the radiative interior of the Sun, where nearly 90% of the angular momentum resides, to the convection zone, which is being spun down by the solar wind, (ii) that it controls conditions at the lower boundary of the convection zone, and is therefore an integral component of the overall rotational dynamics of the convection, and (iii), perhaps most relevant to the interests of the greater proportion of the participants of the workshop, it is now generally recognized as being the seat of the solar dynamo. It plays some role in shaping the evolution of the Sun, and it must be taken into account when interpreting the helioseismological diagnostics of the solar structure.