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Constraining the Angular Momentum of the Sun with Planetary Orbital Motions and General Relativity  

Lorenzo Iorio   Submitted: 2012-07-18 16:30

The angular momentum of a star is an important astrophysical quantityrelated to its internal structure, formation and evolution. Onaverage, helioseismology yields S = 1.92 x1041 kg m2 s-1 for the angularmomentum of the Sun. We show how it should be possible to measure or,at least, constrain it in a near future by using the gravitomagneticLense-Thirring effect predicted by general relativity for the orbit ofa test particle moving around a central rotating body. We also discussthe present-day situation in view of the latest determinations of thesupplementary perihelion precession of Mercury. A fit by Fienga et al.(Celestial Mech. Dynamical Astron. 111, 363, 2011) of the dynamicalmodels of several standard forces acting on the planets of the solarsystem to a long data record yielded 0.4 ± 0.6 milliarcseconds percentury. The modeled forces did not include the Lense-Thirring effectitself, which is expected to be as large as -2.0 milliarcseconds percentury.from helioseismology-based values of S. By assuming thevalidity of General Relativity, from its theoretical prediction forthe gravitomagnetic perihelion precession of Mercury one canstraightforwardly infer S <= 0.95 x1041 kg m2 s-1. It disagrees with thecurrently available values from helioseismology. Possible sources forthe present discrepancy are examined. Given the current level ofaccuracy in the Mercury ephemerides, the gravitomagnetic force of theSun should be included in their force models. MESSENGER, in orbitaround Mercury since March 2011, will collect science data until 2013,while BepiColombo, to be launched in 2015, should reach Mercury in2022 for a year-long science phase: the analysis of their data will beimportant in eectively constraining S in about a decade or, perhaps,even less.

Authors: Lorenzo Iorio
Projects: Other

Publication Status: To appear in Solar Physics
Last Modified: 2012-07-19 11:53
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Constraining the Angular Momentum of the Sun with Planetary Orbital Motions and General Relativity

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