No Evidence of a Circumsolar Dust Ring from Infrared Observations of the 1991 Solar Eclipse

Science  04 Sep 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5075, pp. 1377-1380
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5075.1377


During the past 25 years there have been many attempts to detect a possible dust ring around the sun, with contradictory results. Before the 1991 eclipse, infrared eclipse experiments used single-element detectors to scan the corona along the ecliptic for excess surface brightness peaks. The availability of relatively large-format infrared array detectors now provides a considerable observational advantage: two-dimensional mapping of the brightness and polarization of the corona with high photometric precision. The 1991 eclipse path included the high-altitude Mauna Kea Observatory, a further advantage to measure the corona out to large angular distances from the sun. Results are reported from an experiment conducted on Mauna Kea with a HgCdTe-array detector sensitive to wavelengths between 1 and 2.5 micrometers, using broad-band J, H, and K filters. Although the sky conditions were not ideal, the H- and K-band surface brightnesses clearly show the inhomogeneous structure in the K-corona and the elliptical flattening of the F-corona, but no evidence of a circumsolar, local dust component out to 15 solar radii.