J. Space Weather Space Clim.
Volume 6, 2016
Brightness Variations of the Sun and Sun-like Stars and Resulting Influences on their Environments
|Number of page(s)
|25 July 2016
Magnitudes and timescales of total solar irradiance variability
University of Colorado, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, 3665 Discovery Drive, Boulder, CO
* Corresponding author: Greg.Kopp@LASP.Colorado.edu
Accepted: 16 June 2016
The Sun’s net radiative output varies on timescales of minutes to gigayears. Direct measurements of the total solar irradiance (TSI) show changes in the spatially- and spectrally-integrated radiant energy on timescales as short as minutes to as long as a solar cycle. Variations of ~0.01% over a few minutes are caused by the ever-present superposition of convection and oscillations with very large solar flares on rare occasion causing slightly-larger measurable signals. On timescales of days to weeks, changing photospheric magnetic activity affects solar brightness at the ~0.1% level. The 11-year solar cycle shows variations of comparable magnitude with irradiances peaking near solar maximum. Secular variations are more difficult to discern, being limited by instrument stability and the relatively short duration of the space-borne record. Historical reconstructions of the Sun’s irradiance based on indicators of solar-surface magnetic activity, such as sunspots, faculae, and cosmogenic isotope records, suggest solar brightness changes over decades to millennia, although the magnitudes of these variations have high uncertainties due to the indirect historical records on which they rely. Stellar evolution affects yet longer timescales and is responsible for the greatest solar variabilities. In this manuscript I summarize the Sun’s variability magnitudes over different temporal regimes and discuss the irradiance record’s relevance for solar and climate studies as well as for detections of exo-solar planets transiting Sun-like stars.
Key words: Total irradiance / Sun / Variability / Climate / Solar activity
© G. Kopp, Published by EDP Sciences 2016
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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