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The Solar Dynamo

  • D. Schmitt (a1)


The generation of the solar magnetic field is generally ascribed to dynamo processes in the convection zone. The dynamo effects, differential rotation (ω–effect) and helical turbulence (α–effect) are explained, and the basic properties of the mean–field dynamo equations are discussed in close comparison with the observed solar cycle.

Especially the question of the seat of the dynamo is addressed. Problems of a dynamo in the convection zone proper could be magnetic buoyancy, the nearly strict observance of the polarity rules and the migration pattern of the magnetic fields which are difficult to understand in the light of recent studies of the field structure in the convection zone and by observations of the solar acoustic oscillations. To overcome some of these problems it has been suggested that the solar dynamo operates in the thin overshoot region at the base of the convection zone instead. Some aspects of such an interface dynamo are discussed. As an alternative to the turbulent α–effect a dynamic α-effect based on magnetostrophic waves driven by a magnetic buoyancy instability of a magnetic flux layer is introduced. Model calculations for both pictures, a convection zone and an interface dynamo, are presented which use the internal rotation of the sun as deduced from helioseismology. Solutions with solar cycle behaviour are only obtained if the magnetic flux is bounded in the lower convection zone and the α–effect is concentrated near the equator.

Another aspect briefly addressed is the nonlinear saturation of the magnetic field. The necessity of the dynamic nature of the dynamo processes is emphasized, and different processes, e.g. magnetic buoyancy and α-quenching, are mentioned.

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The Solar Dynamo

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