Solar Physics Division Meeting 2000, June 19-22
Session 2. Corona, Solar Wind, Flares, CMEs, Solar-stellar, Instrumentation, Other
Display, Chair: J. Krall, Monday-Thursday, June 19, 2000, 8:00am-6:00pm, Forum Ballroom

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[2.24] The Solar Helium Abundance in the Outer Corona Determined from Observations with SUMER/SOHO

J. M. Laming, U. Feldman (NRL)

At altitudes of about 1.05 solar radii or more, the corona above quiet solar regions becomes essentially isothermal. This obviates many of the difficulties associated with the inverse problem of determining emission measure distributions, and allows for fairly straightforward relative element abundance measurements. We present new values for the He abundance. The first is based on a reanalysis of the He/O ratio studied by previously by Feldman (1998) using data acquired by SUMER. We use a revised value of the O abundance, and a more thorough evaluation of the atomic physics for He II to derive an He/H abundance ratio of 0.092, (mass fraction, Y=0.27), with an error of ~17% coming mainly from the O abundance uncertainty. We demonstrate that this result may be affected by gravitational settling of O relative to He. We also derive an abundance for He by direct comparison to emission lines of the H I Lyman series, with the result He/H =0.083 ±10% (Y=0.25). Gravitational settling, if present, has the opposite effect on this result to that above. Combining the two measurements leads to a final result of He/H =0.084±0.008.

This work was supported by the NRL/ONR Solar Magnetism and the Earth's Environment 6.1 Research Option and by NASA Contract W19473. The SUMER project is financially supported by DARA, CNES, NASA and the ESA PRODEX program (Swiss contribution). SUMER is a part of SOHO, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, of ESA and NASA.

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