34th Solar Physics Division Meeting, June 2003
Session 26 The Changing Solar interior II
Oral, Friday, June 20, 2003, 9:00am-12:00noon, Auditorium

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[26.02] Variability of the Solar Radius

L. Bertello, R.K. Ulrich (UCLA)

Possible temporal variability of the solar radius is important as an indicator of internal energy storage and as a mechanism for changes in the total solar irradiance (TSI). Variations in the TSI with an amplitude of 0.1% have been observed from space for more than two decades. Although the variability of this solar output is definitely established, the detailed dependence of the rate of energy output on the level of solar magnetic activity has not yet been measured with enough continuity and precision to establish the correlation throughout the full solar cycle. Changes in the solar radius could account for a significant fraction of the total irradiance variations. However, studies of the solar radius variation have reported contradictory results in the form of both correlations and anticorrelations between the solar radius and, for example, the cycle of sunspot numbers. Most of these studies however, are affected by the highly inhomogeneous data used in the analysis. This factor becomes particularly critical in the case of measurements that cover a very long period of time.

We present consistent solar radius measurements obtained from the Mt Wilson synoptic programme of solar magnetic observations carried out at the 150-foot tower. Two definitions of the solar radius are used: the longest reduced record beginning in 1975 is derived from the fit of a circle to the isophote having an intensity equal to 40%\ of the central intensity and more recently we have developed a definition based on intensity fits within 16 sectors around the solar circumference. Ulrich and Bertello (Nature, 1995, 377, 214) have made a re-analysis of an older database correcting for such effects as scattered light and atmospheric refraction. The older database is brought up to date and compared to results based on the new radius definition as well as other published radius variations.

This work was supported by NASA through grants NAG5-10905 and NAG5-11708 as well as by NSF through grant ATM-0101350.


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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.