Scattering polarization in strong chromospheric lines
III. Spatial fluctuations of the polarized Ca ii K line profiles
Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zentrum, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland e-mail: email@example.com
2 Faculty of Mathematics & Science, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 5 June 2007
Aims.We explore the spatial variations of the chromospheric Ca ii K scattering polarization on the quiet Sun, in particular the fluctuations of the linear polarizations and , their correlations, varying profile shapes, and center-to-limb variations.
Methods.A set of high precision polarimetric recordings with ZIMPOL (Zurich Imaging Polarimeter) at distinct heliographic positions is used.
Results.Two main effects contribute to the observed fluctuations: (i) Chromospheric magnetic fields (located in the K3 layer), which induce polarization variations via the Hanle effect. (ii) “Hot spots” due to small-scale temperature structuring of the chromosphere, which induce variations of the local scattering geometry. The observed signatures of both effects are influenced by the turbulent broadening, which steeply increases with height, by optical depth variations in the K3 layer, and by the chromospheric temperature stratification. Almost all the fluctuations that are seen with our spatial resolution (approximately 5 arcsec) originate in the high chromospheric K3 layer, while the lower chromospheric layers are much more homogeneous at the resolved scales. The relatively small fluctuations observed between the K1 and K2 wavelengths constrain the size and lifetime of cold and hot areas in the low and mid chromosphere.
Conclusions.At present it is not possible to disentangle the Hanle effect and the “hot-spot” effect from each other. This would require 2D spatial mapping of the linear polarization at the K3, K2, and K1 wavelengths with higher spatial resolution, which is hard to do with existing telescopes, since the observations are photon starved and require larger telescope apertures.
Key words: line: formation / polarization / scattering / Sun: atmosphere / Sun: chromosphere / Sun: magnetic fields
© ESO, 2007