Astrophysics and Space Science

, Volume 328, Issue 1–2, pp 301–305 | Cite as

The butterfly diagram internal structure

  • M. TernulloEmail author
Original Article


This work originates from the need of getting a picture of the spot zone that is sharp enough to efficiently help us place tighter and more realistic constraints than we would usually do on dynamo models, in order to improve their predictive performance.

This paper questions the confidence in Maunder’s Butterfly Diagram (BD) as the fundamental tool for describing the magnetic flux large-scale distribution and presents a new version of the time-latitude diagram for cycles 21 through 23, where spot groups are given proportional relevance to their area. The diagram presented here confirms the active regions’ well-known tendency to repeatedly appear in a few photospheric regions (“activity nests”) tightly limited in latitude, active for a short time. Activity nests leave their signature in the BD, in the form of small portions (“knots”) characterized by the spotted area high density. The BD may be described as a cluster of knots. A knot may appear at either lower or higher latitudes than previous ones; accordingly, the spot mean latitude abruptly drifts equatorward or even poleward, even though the knot’s prevalent tendency is to appear at lower and lower latitudes.

A careful inspection of the BD suggests that its intricate fine structure may be (partially) disentangled by recognizing that, in any hemisphere, the activity is split into two or more distinct “activity waves” (out of phase compared to each other), drifting equatorward at a rate higher than the spot zone as a whole. Preliminary computations confirm this suggestion.


Sun, butterfly diagram Sun, sunspot statistics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Antalová, A., Gnevishev, M.N.: Contr. Astron. Obs. Skalnaté Pleso 11, 63 (1983) ADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell, B.: Smithsonian Contrib. Astrophys. 5(3) (1960) Google Scholar
  3. Berdyugina, S.V.: Highlights Astron. 14, 275 (2007) ADSGoogle Scholar
  4. Bumba, V., Howard, R.: Astrophys. J. 141, 1502 (1965) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  5. Castenmiller, M.J.M., et al.: Sol. Phys. 105, 237 (1986) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  6. Charbonneau, P.: Living Rev. Solar Phys. 2, 2 (2005). Online Article: Google Scholar
  7. Consolini, G., Tozzi, R., De Michelis, P.: Astron. Astrophys. 506, 1381 (2009) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  8. Contarino, L., Romano, P., Ternullo, M., Zappalà, R.A., Zuccarello, F.: In: Proc. 1st Solar & Space Weather Euroconference ‘The Solar Cycle and Terrestrial Climate’, Tenerife, Spain (ESA SP-463) (2000) Google Scholar
  9. Choudhuri, A.R.: Adv. Space Res. 41, 868 (2008) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  10. Forgács-Dajka, E., et al.: Astron. Astrophys. 424, 311 (2004) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  11. Gaizauskas, V., et al.: Astrophys. J. 265, 1056 (1983) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  12. Gleissberg, W.: Sol. Phys. 4, 93 (1968) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  13. Jiang, J., Wang, J.X.: Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 377, 711 (2007) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  14. Kane, R.P.: Sol. Phys. 227, 155 (2005) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  15. Godoli, G.: Sol. Phys. 9, 246 (1969) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  16. Harvey, K.L., Zwann, C.: Sol. Phys. 148, 85 (1993) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  17. Hathaway, D.H., et al.: Astrophys. J. 589, 665 (2003) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  18. Howe, R., et al.: In: Brekke, P., et al. (eds.) Recent Insights into the Physics of the Sun and Heliosphere. IAU Symposium, vol. 203, p. 41 (2001) Google Scholar
  19. Howe, R.: Solar interior rotation its variation. Living Rev. Solar Phys. 6, 1 (2009). URL (cited on September 2009): ADSGoogle Scholar
  20. Kopecký, M.: Adv. Astron. Astrophys. 7, 57 (1970) ADSGoogle Scholar
  21. Krivova, N.A., Solanki, S.K.: Astron. Astrophys. 394, 701 (2002) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  22. Major, B.: In: Forgács-Dajka, E., Petrovay, K., Erdélyi, R. (eds.) Publ. Astron. Dept. Eötvös University, vol. 14, p. 187 (2004) Google Scholar
  23. Maunder, E.W.: Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 64, 760 (1904) ADSGoogle Scholar
  24. Maunder, E.W.: Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 82, 534 (1922) ADSGoogle Scholar
  25. Norton, A.A., Gilman, P.A.: Astrophys. J. 603, 348 (2004) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  26. Ossendrijver, M.: Astron. Astrophys. Rev. 11, 287 (2003) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  27. Petrovay, K., Szakály, G.: Sol. Phys. 185, 1 (1999) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  28. Rabin, D., et al.: In: Cox, X., et al. (eds.) Solar Interior and Atmosphere, p. 781. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson (1991) Google Scholar
  29. Rodonò, M.: Mem. Soc. Astron. Ital. 60, 587 (1989) ADSGoogle Scholar
  30. Schatten, K.H.: Sol. Phys. 125, 185 (1990) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  31. Solanki, S.K., Inhester, B., Schüssler, M.: Rep. Progr. Phys. 69, 563 (2006) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  32. Solanki, S.K., Wenzler, T., Schmitt, D.: Astron. Astrophys. 483, 623 (2008) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  33. Ternullo, M.: Sol. Phys. 127, 29 (1990) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  34. Ternullo, M.: Poster Papers presented at the Seventh European Meeting on Solar Physics, held 11–15 May, 1993 in Catania, Italy. G. Belvedere, et al. (eds.) Catania Astrophysical Observatory Special Publication, p. 35 (1994) Google Scholar
  35. Ternullo, M.: Sol. Phys. 172, 37 (1997) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  36. Ternullo, M.: Mem. Soc. Astron. Ital. 72, 565 (2001a) ADSGoogle Scholar
  37. Ternullo, M.: Mem. Soc. Astron. Ital. 72, 681 (2001b) ADSGoogle Scholar
  38. Ternullo, M., Bonanno, A.: In: Proceedings of LXXXVII Congr. Nazion. Soc. Ital. Fis., p. 185 (2001) Google Scholar
  39. Ternullo, M.: Sol. Phys. 240, 153 (2007a) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  40. Ternullo, M.: Mem. Soc. Astron. Ital. 78, 596 (2007b) ADSGoogle Scholar
  41. Ternullo, M.: Astron. Nachr. 328, 1023 (2007c) zbMATHCrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  42. Ternullo, M.: In: Electronic Proceedings—12th European Solar Physics Meeting, 8–12 September 2008, Freiburg, Germany: (2008)
  43. Ternullo, M.: Mem. Soc. Astron. Ital. (2009, in press) Google Scholar
  44. Toomre, J., et al.: In: Sawaya-Lacoste (ed.) Proceedings of SOHO 12/GONG+2002 on Local and Global Helioseismology: The Present and Future, ESA SP-517, ESA Publication Division, Noordwijk, Netherlands (2003) Google Scholar
  45. Van Driel-Gesztelyi, L., van der Zalm, E.B.J., Zwann, C.: In: Harvey, K.L. (ed.) The Solar Cycle, Asp Conference Series, vol. 27 (1992) Google Scholar
  46. Vecchio, A., Carbone, V.: Astron. Astrophys. 502, 981 (2009) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  47. Waldmeier, M.: Astron. Mitt Zürich 14, 470 (1939) ADSGoogle Scholar
  48. Waldmeier, M.: In: Proceedings of the Meeting on Sunspots, ed. by Comit. Naz. Manifestaz. Celebrat. IV Centen. Galileo G., Florence, p. 50 (1966) Google Scholar
  49. Yallop, B.D., Hohenkerk, C.Y.: Sol. Phys. 68, 303 (1980) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INAFOsservatorio Astrofisico di CataniaCataniaItaly

Personalised recommendations