Uncertainties in polarimetric 3D reconstructions of coronal mass ejections
INAF–Osservatorio Astrofisico di Torino,
via Osservatorio 20,
Pino Torinese ( TO), Italy
2 School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, North Haugh, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland KY16 9SS, UK
Received: 12 June 2014
Accepted: 21 January 2015
Aims. The aim of this work is to quantify the uncertainties in the three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of the location of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) obtained with the so-called polarization ratio technique. The method takes advantage of the different distributions along the line of sight of total (tB) and polarized (pB) brightnesses emitted by Thomson scattering to estimate the average location of the emitting plasma. This is particularly important to correctly identify of CME propagation angles and unprojected velocities, thus allowing better capabilities for space weather forecastings.
Methods. To this end, we assumed two simple electron density distributions along the line of sight (a constant density and Gaussian density profiles) for a plasma blob and synthesized the expected tB and pB for different distances z of the blob from the plane of the sky and different projected altitudes ρ. Reconstructed locations of the blob along the line of sight were thus compared with the real ones, allowing a precise determination of uncertainties in the method.
Results. Results show that, independently of the analytical density profile, when the blob is centered at a small distance from the plane of the sky (i.e. for limb CMEs) the distance from the plane of the sky starts to be significantly overestimated. Polarization ratio technique provides the line-of-sight position of the center of mass of what we call folded density distribution, given by reflecting and summing in front of the plane of the sky the fraction of density profile located behind that plane. On the other hand, when the blob is far from the plane of the sky, but with very small projected altitudes (i.e. for halo CMEs, ρ< 1.4R⊙), the inferred distance from that plane is significantly underestimated. Better determination of the real blob position along the line of sight is given for intermediate locations, and in particular when the blob is centered at an angle of 20° from the plane of the sky.
Conclusions. These result have important consequences not only for future 3D reconstruction of CMEs with polarization ratio technique, but also for the design of future coronagraphs aimed at providing a continuous monitoring of halo-CMEs for space weather prediction purposes.
Key words: techniques: polarimetric / Sun: corona / Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
© ESO, 2015