Hanle effect in the solar Ba II D2 line: a diagnostic tool for chromospheric weak magnetic fields
Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, Fizeau Laboratory (CNRS/UMR 6525), Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Institute for Space Astrophysics, (CNRS/UMR 8617) Centre universitaire d'Orsay, Bât. 120 121, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
3 Meudon Observatory, LESIA (CNRS/UMR 8109), 5 place J. Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 18 September 2008
Context. The physics of the solar chromosphere depends in a crucial way on its magnetic structure. However there are presently very few direct magnetic field diagnostics available for this region.
Aims. Here we investigate the diagnostic potential of the Hanle effect on the Ba II D2 line resonance polarization for the determination of weak chromospheric turbulent magnetic fields.
Methods. The line formation is described with a non-LTE polarized radiative transfer model taking into account partial frequency redistribution with an equivalent two-level atom approximation, in the presence of depolarizing collisions and the Hanle effect. We investigate the line sensitivity to temperature variations in the low chromosphere and to elastic collision with hydrogen atoms. We compare center-to-limb variations of the intensity and linear polarization profiles observed at THEMIS in 2007 to our numerical results.
Results. We show that the line resonance polarization is very strongly affected by partial frequency redistribution effects both in the line central peak and in the wings. Complete frequency redistribution cannot reproduce the polarization observed in the line wings. The line is weakly sensitive to temperature differences between warm and cold components of the chromosphere. The effects of elastic collisions with hydrogen atoms and of alignment transfer due to multi-level coupling with the metastable 2D5/2 levels have been studied in a recent paper showing that they depolarize the 2P3/2 level of the line. In the conditions where the line is formed we estimate the amount of depolarization due to this mechanism as a factor of 0.7 to 0.65. If we first neglect this effect and determine the turbulent magnetic field strength required to account for the observed line polarization, we obtain values between 20 G and 30 G. We show that this overestimates the magnetic strength by a factor between 1.7 and 2. Applying these correction factors to our previous estimates, we find that the turbulent magnetic field strength is between 10 G and 18 G.
Conclusions. Because of its low sensitivity to temperature variations, the solar Ba II D2 line appears as a very good candidate for the diagnosis of weak magnetic fields in the low chromosphere (z ≥ 900 km) by means of the Hanle effect.
Key words: line: profiles / Sun: magnetic fields / techniques: polarimetric / Sun: chromosphere / radiative transfer / scattering
© ESO, 2008