EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 370, Number 1, April IV 2001
Page(s) 281 - 297
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20010265

A&A 370, 281-297 (2001)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20010265

SOHO/SUMER observations and analysis of the hydrogen Lyman spectrum in solar prominences

P. Heinzel1, 2, B. Schmieder2, 3, J.-C. Vial4 and P. Kotrc1

1  Astronomical Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 25165 Ondrejov, Czech Republic
2  Observatoire de Paris, Section de Meudon, 92195 Meudon Principal Cedex, France
3  Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Oslo, Blindern, 0315 Oslo, Norway
4  Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Université Paris XI/CNRS, Bât. 121, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France

(Received 12 September 2000 / Accepted 9 January 2001)

The complete hydrogen Lyman spectrum in several prominences has been observed with the UV spectrometer SUMER on-board the SOHO, during the Joint Observing Programme 107, together with other space and ground-based observatories. Based on these observations, we are able to demonstrate, for the first time, that there exists a large variety of intensities and shapes of Lyman lines in different prominences and in various parts thereof. Therefore, no "canonical"Lyman spectrum can be considered for modelling purposes. However, we have identified at least two representative properties of the observed spectra: in one case (May 28, 1999 prominence) we detected high integrated intensities and no reversals in lines higher than L$\alpha$. Another prominence (June 2, 1999) exhibited quite similar integrated intensities, but all lines have rather strongly reversed profiles. This behaviour cannot be explained in terms of standard isothermal-isobaric models and we thus consider more general models which are in pressure equilibrium with the magnetic field and which have significant prominence-corona transition region (PCTR) temperature gradients. This type of model, recently suggested by Anzer & Heinzel (1999), is capable of explaining strong emission profiles without reversal. Based on extended non-LTE computations, we suggest that quite different Lyman spectra mentioned above may correspond to two types of PCTRs, one seen along the magnetic-field lines (unreversed profiles) and the other one seen across the field lines (reversed profiles). Finally, we again confirm the importance of partial-redistribution (PRD) scattering processes for Lyman lines in prominences. However, our analysis of new SUMER data also points to a critical role of the PCTR in radiative transport in these lines.

Key words: Sun: prominences -- Sun: UV radiation -- line: profiles -- radiative transfer

Offprint request: P. Heinzel, pheinzel@asu.cas.cz

© ESO 2001