AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 34. Understanding Solar Magnetism, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope
SPD Topical Session Oral, Tuesday, June 4, 2002, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, Ballroom B

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[34.05] Thermal Infrared Frontiers

D. E. Jennings (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

The solar spectrum between 5 and 28 microns has a rich diagnostic potential that is only now being realized. The ATST will have instrumentation specialized for this ``thermal" infrared region that will go well beyond present capabilities for solar magnetic field research. In particular, the MgI emission lines near 12 microns offer advantages for polarimetry. The Zeeman splittings in these lines are completely resolved at field strengths of a few hundred gauss. These lines are formed in the upper photosphere and, when used with data from the visible and near-infrared, produce three-dimensional pictures of the magnetic field. During the past two years, a team from Goddard Space Flight Center has been mapping vector fields in Stokes IQUV using a cryogenic grating spectrometer and a 12-micron polarization analyzer at the McMath-Pierce Telescope. On 24 April 2001 active region NOAA 9433 was mapped just before an M2 flare, revealing opposite polarity fields of 2700 and 1000 G within a single 2 arcsec pixel and implying a very high 5 G/km horizontal field gradient prior to the flare (1). In addition to polarimetry, there are advantages for imaging in the thermal infrared. The continuum brightness is a direct measure of temperature, and probes heights from 50 to 250 km at progressively longer wavelengths. The ATST will take advantage of the low light scattering and negligible instrumental polarization in the infrared, and will minimize thermal background. The large aperture of the ATST will produce unprecedented diffraction-limited spatial resolution at infrared wavelengths. This work is supported in part by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Physics Program.

(1) Jennings, D.E., Deming, D., McCabe, G., Sada, P.V., and Moran, T. 2002, ApJ, 568, April 1, to be published.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.