High-resolution, high-sensitivity, ground-based solar spectropolarimetry with a new fast imaging polarimeter
I. Prototype characterization
1 Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
2 Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Koramangala Second Block, 560034 Bengaluru, India
3 School of Space Research, Kyung Hee University, Yongin, 446-701 Gyeonggi-Do, Korea
Received: 24 February 2016
Accepted: 30 March 2016
Context. Remote sensing of weak and small-scale solar magnetic fields is of utmost relevance when attempting to respond to a number of important open questions in solar physics. This requires the acquisition of spectropolarimetric data with high spatial resolution (~10-1 arcsec) and low noise (10-3 to 10-5 of the continuum intensity). The main limitations to obtain these measurements from the ground, are the degradation of the image resolution produced by atmospheric seeing and the seeing-induced crosstalk (SIC).
Aims. We introduce the prototype of the Fast Solar Polarimeter (FSP), a new ground-based, high-cadence polarimeter that tackles the above-mentioned limitations by producing data that are optimally suited for the application of post-facto image restoration, and by operating at a modulation frequency of 100 Hz to reduce SIC.
Methods. We describe the instrument in depth, including the fast pnCCD camera employed, the achromatic modulator package, the main calibration steps, the effects of the modulation frequency on the levels of seeing-induced spurious signals, and the effect of the camera properties on the image restoration quality.
Results. The pnCCD camera reaches 400 fps while keeping a high duty cycle (98.6%) and very low noise (4.94 e− rms). The modulator is optimized to have high (>80%) total polarimetric efficiency in the visible spectral range. This allows FSP to acquire 100 photon-noise-limited, full-Stokes measurements per second. We found that the seeing induced signals that are present in narrow-band, non-modulated, quiet-sun measurements are (a) lower than the noise (7 × 10-5) after integrating 7.66 min, (b) lower than the noise (2.3 × 10-4) after integrating 1.16 min and (c) slightly above the noise (4 × 10-3) after restoring case (b) by means of a multi-object multi-frame blind deconvolution. In addition, we demonstrate that by using only narrow-band images (with low S/N of 13.9) of an active region, we can obtain one complete set of high-quality restored measurements about every 2 s.
Key words: instrumentation: polarimeters / techniques: polarimetric / techniques: image processing / Sun: magnetic fields
© ESO, 2016