FTS atlas of the Sun’s spectrally resolved center-to-limb variation
Institute of Astronomy,
2 Istituto Ricerche Solari Locarno, via Patocchi, 6605 Locarno Monti, Switzerland
Received: 26 July 2014
Accepted: 28 October 2014
The Sun’s spectrum varies with center-to-limb distance, which is usually parameterized by μ = cosθ, where θ is the heliocentric angle. This variation is governed by the underlying temperature-density structure of the solar atmosphere. While the center-to-limb variation (CLV) of the continuous spectrum is well known and has been widely used for atmospheric modeling, there has been no systematic exploration of the spectrally resolved CLV. Here we make use of two spectral atlases recorded with the Fourier transform spectrometer (FTS) at the McMath-Pierce facility at Kitt Peak. One spectral atlas obtained 10 arcsec inside the solar limb was recorded in 1978–79 as part of the first survey of the Second Solar Spectrum, while the other atlas is the well used reference NSO/Kitt Peak FTS atlas for the disk center. Both atlases represent fully resolved spectra without any spectral stray light. We then construct an atlas of the limb/disk-center ratio between the two spectra over the wavelength range 4084–9950 Å. This ratio spectrum, which expresses the CLV amplitude relative to the continuum, is as richly structured as the intensity spectrum itself, but the line profiles differ greatly in both shape and amplitude. It is as if we are dealing with a new, unfamiliar spectrum of the Sun, distinctly different from both the intensity spectrum (which we here refer to with the acronym SS1) and the linear polarization of the Second Solar Spectrum (for which we use acronym SS2). In analogy we refer to the new ratio spectrum as SS3. While there is hardly any resemblance between SS3 and SS2, we are able to identify a non-linear mapping that can translate SS1 to SS3 in the case of weak to medium-strong spectral lines that are mainly formed in LTE (being directly coupled to the local temperature-density structure). This non-linear mapping is successfully modeled in terms of two free parameters that are found to vary approximately linearly over the entire wavelength range covered. These parameters and the various SS3 line profiles provide a novel, rich set of observational constraints, which may be used to test the validity of model atmospheres or guide the construction of improved models.
Key words: Sun: atmosphere / atlases / line: profiles / techniques: spectroscopic / radiative transfer / polarization
© ESO, 2014