Solar disc radius determined from observations made during eclipses with bolometric and photometric instruments on board the PICARD satellite
1 Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos, World Radiation Center, 7260 Davos Dorf, Switzerland
2 Royal Observatory of Belgium, 3 avenue circulaire, 1180 Bruxelles, Belgium
3 Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
4 Astronomy Department, Yale University, PO Box 208101, New Haven, CT 06520-8101, USA
5 Observatoire de Haute-Provence du CNRS, 04870 Saint-Michel l’ Observatoire, France
Received: 23 July 2016
Accepted: 18 February 2017
Context. Despite the importance of having an accurate measurement of the solar disc radius, there are large uncertainties of its value due to the use of different measurement techniques and instrument calibration. An item of particular importance is to establish whether the value of the solar disc radius correlates with the solar activity level.
Aims. The main goal of this work is to measure the solar disc radius in the near-UV, visible, and near-IR regions of the solar spectrum.
Methods. Three instruments on board the PICARD spacecraft, namely the Bolometric Oscillations Sensor (BOS), the PREcision MOnitoring Sensor (PREMOS), and a solar sensor (SES), are used to derive the solar disc radius using the light curves produced when the Sun is occulted by the Moon. Nine eclipses, from 2010 to 2013, resulted in 17 occultations as viewed from the moving satellite. The calculation of the solar disc radius uses a simulation of the light curve taking into account the center-to-limb variation provided by the Non-local thermodynamic Equilibrium Spectral SYnthesis (NESSY) code.
Results. We derive individual values for the solar disc radius for each viewed eclipse. Tests for a systematic variation of the radius with the progression of the solar cycle yield no significant results during the three years of measurements within the uncertainty of our measurements. Therefore, we derive a more precise radius value by averaging these values. At one astronomical unit, we obtain 959.79 arcseconds (arcsec) from the bolometric experiment; from PREMOS measurements, we obtain 959.78 arcsec at 782 nm and 959.76 arcsec at 535 nm. We found 960.07 arcsec at 210 nm, which is a higher value than the other determinations given the photons at this wavelength originate from the upper photosphere and lower chromosphere. We also give a detailed comparison of our results with those previously published using measurements from space-based and ground-based instruments using the Moon angular radius reference, and different methods.
Conclusions. Our results, which use the Moon as an absolute calibration, clearly show the dependence of the solar disc radius with wavelength in UV, visible and near-IR. Beyond the metrological results, solar disc radius measurements will allow the accuracy of models of the solar atmosphere to be tested. Proposed systematic variations of the solar disc radius during the time of observation would be smaller than the uncertainty of our measurement, which amounts to less than 26 milliarcseconds.
Key words: Sun: fundamental parameters / Sun: general / instrumentation: photometers / techniques: photometric
© ESO, 2017