Global maps of the magnetic field in the solar corona

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Science  07 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6504, pp. 694-697
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb4462

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The magnetic field in the Sun's corona

The solar corona is the outermost layer of the Sun's atmosphere, consisting of hot, diffuse, and highly ionized plasma. The magnetic field in this region is expected to drive many of its physical properties but has been difficult to measure with observations. Yang et al. used near-infrared imaging spectroscopy to determine the electron density and magnetohydrodynamic wave speed in the corona. By combining these measurements, they derived maps of the magnetic field throughout the entire observable corona. The method could potentially be used to produce routine magnetic field maps for the corona that are similar to those already available for the Sun's surface.

Science, this issue p. 694


Understanding many physical processes in the solar atmosphere requires determination of the magnetic field in each atmospheric layer. However, direct measurements of the magnetic field in the Sun’s corona are difficult to obtain. Using observations with the Coronal Multi-channel Polarimeter, we have determined the spatial distribution of the plasma density in the corona and the phase speed of the prevailing transverse magnetohydrodynamic waves within the plasma. We combined these measurements to map the plane-of-sky component of the global coronal magnetic field. The derived field strengths in the corona, from 1.05 to 1.35 solar radii, are mostly 1 to 4 gauss. Our results demonstrate the capability of imaging spectroscopy in coronal magnetic field diagnostics.

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