Solar Heavy-Element Abundance: Constraints from Frequency Separation Ratios of Low-Degree p-Modes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


We use very precise frequencies of low-degree solar-oscillation modes measured from 4752 days of data collected by the Birmingham Solar-Oscillations Network to derive seismic information on the solar core. We compare these observations to results from a large Monte Carlo simulation of standard solar models, and use the results to constrain the mean molecular weight of the solar core and the metallicity of the solar convection zone. We find that only a high value of solar metallicity is consistent with the seismic observations. We can determine the mean molecular weight of the solar core to a very high precision, and, depending on the sequence of Monte Carlo models used, we find that the average mean molecular weight in the inner 20% by radius of the Sun ranges from 0.7209 to 0.7231, with uncertainties of less than 0.5% on each value. Our lowest seismic estimate of solar metallicity is Z = 0.0187, and our highest is Z = 0.0239, with uncertainties in the range of 12% -19%. Our results indicate that the discrepancies between solar models constructed with low metallicity and the helioseismic observations extend to the solar core, and thus cannot be attributed to deficiencies in the modeling of the solar convection zone.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-884
Number of pages13
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2007


  • sun : helioseismology, sun : abundances, sun : interior