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The Rotation Rates of Solar Magnetic Fields During Solar Cycles 21 – 23


Employing the synoptic maps of the photospheric magnetic fields from the beginning of solar cycle 21 to the end of 23, we first build up a time – longitude stackplot at each latitude between ±35°. On each stackplot there are many tilted magnetic structures clearly reflecting the rotation rates, and we adopt a cross-correlation technique to explore the rotation rates from these tilted structures. Our new method avoids artificially choosing magnetic tracers, and it is convenient for investigating the rotation rates of the positive and negative fields by omitting one kind of field on the stackplots. We have obtained the following results. i) The rotation rates of the positive and negative fields (or the leader and follower polarities, depending on the hemispheres and solar cycles) between latitudes ±35° during solar cycles 21–23 are derived. The reversal times of the leader and follower polarities are usually not consistent with the years of the solar minimum, nevertheless, at latitudes ±16°, the reversal times are almost simultaneous with them. ii) The rotation rates of the three solar cycles averaged over each cycle are calculated separately for the positive, negative and total fields. The latitude profiles of rotation of the positive and negative fields exhibit equatorial symmetries with each other, and those of the total fields lie between them. iii) The differences in rotation rates between the leader and follower polarities are obtained. They are very small near the equator, and increase as latitude increases. In the latitude range of 5° – 20°, these differences reach 0.05 deg day−1, and the mean difference for solar cycle 22 is somewhat smaller than cycles 21 and 23 in these latitude regions. Then, the differences reduce again at latitudes higher than 20°.

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Correspondence to Z. Chu.

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Chu, Z., Zhang, J., Nie, Q.X. et al. The Rotation Rates of Solar Magnetic Fields During Solar Cycles 21 – 23. Sol Phys 264, 1–11 (2010).

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  • Magnetic fields, photosphere
  • Rotation
  • Sunspots