The medium-l program of the Michelson Doppler Imager instrument on board SOHO provides continuous observations of oscillation modes of angular degree, l, from 0 to approximately 300. The data for the program are partly processed on board because only about 3% of MDI observations can be transmitted continuously to the ground. The on-board data processing, the main component of which is Gaussian-weighted binning, has been optimized to reduce the negative influence of spatial aliasing of the high-degree oscillation modes. The data processing is completed in a data analysis pipeline at the SOI Stanford Support Center to determine the mean multiplet frequencies and splitting coefficients. The initial results show that the noise in the medium-l oscillation power spectrum is substantially lower than in ground-based measurements. This enables us to detect lower amplitude modes and, thus, to extend the range of measured mode frequencies. This is important for inferring the Sun's internal structure and rotation. The MDI observations also reveal the asymmetry of oscillation spectral lines. The line asymmetries agree with the theory of mode excitation by acoustic sources localized in the upper convective boundary layer. The sound-speed profile inferred from the mean frequencies gives evidence for a sharp variation at the edge of the energy-generating core. The results also confirm the previous finding by the GONG (Gough et al., 1996) that, in a thin layer just beneath the convection zone, helium appears to be less abundant than predicted by theory. Inverting the multiplet frequency splittings from MDI, we detect significant rotational shear in this thin layer. This layer is likely to be the place where the solar dynamo operates. In order to understand how the Sun works, it is extremely important to observe the evolution of this transition layer throughout the 11-year activity cycle.
Solar Physics; 170; 43-61