EDP Sciences
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Volume 434, Number 1, April IV 2005
Page(s) 377 - 384
Section Instruments, observational techniques, and data processing
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20042259

A&A 434, 377-384 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20042259

Effects in polarimetry of interference within wave plates

D. Clarke

Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK
    e-mail: d.clarke@astro.gla.ac.uk

(Received 27 October 2004 / Accepted 10 January 2005)

Multiple-beam interference within wave plates is investigated in terms of the detrimental effects it produces in the data of stellar spectropolarimetry. It is noted that spectral fringe structures occur in the phase delay, the polarizance and, for Pancharatnam designs, the reference axis of the wave plate. The natures of the problems are exposed by considering typical wave plates and experimental procedures used in linear and circular spectropolarimetry. It is demonstrated that the chief bane of accurate measurements is the presence of polarizance fringes, but which can be alleviated by the choice of experimental procedure. For spectral circular polarization studies, problems of cross-talk from any linear polarization present in the source are especially severe. In principle the effects of fringing can be removed in data reductions by calibration measurements of a set of linear polarization standard stars displaying different vibration azimuths and, for circular polarization measurements, knowledge of the linear polarization characteristics of the investigated star must also be known.

Key words: instrumentation: polarimeters -- techniques: polarimetric

© ESO 2005