Influence of misalignments on the performance of externally occulted solar coronagraphs
Application to PROBA-3/ASPIICS
Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence – SIDC, Royal Observatory of Belgium,
Avenue Circulaire 3,
2 Lebedev Physical Institute, Leninskii prospekt, 53, 119991 Moscow, Russia
3 Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, Moscow State University, Leninskie gory, 119991 Moscow, Russia
Accepted: 11 January 2018
Context. The ASPIICS instrument is a novel externally occulted coronagraph that will be launched on board the PROBA-3 mission of the European Space Agency. The external occulter will be placed on one satellite ~150 m ahead of the second satellite that will carry an optical instrument. During 6 h out of 19.38 h of orbit, the satellites will fly in a precise (accuracy around a few millimeters) formation, constituting a giant externally occulted coronagraph. The large distance between the external occulter and the primary objective will allow observations of the white-light solar corona starting from extremely low heights ~ 1.1R⊙.
Aims. We intend to analyze influence of shifts of the satellites and misalignments of optical elements on the ASPIICS performance in terms of diffracted light. Based on the quantitative influence of misalignments on diffracted light, we provide a recipe for choosing the size of the internal occulter (IO) to achieve a trade-off between the minimal height of observations and sustainability to possible misalignments.
Methods. We considered different types of misalignments and analyzed their influence from optical and computational points of view. We implemented a numerical model of the diffracted light and its propagation through the optical system and computed intensities of diffracted light throughout the instrument. Our numerical approach is based on a model from the literature that considered the axisymmetrical case. Here we extend the model to include nonsymmetrical cases and possible misalignments.
Results. The numerical computations fully confirm the main properties of the diffracted light that we obtained from semi-analytical consideration. We obtain that relative influences of various misalignments are significantly different. We show that the internal occulter with RIO = 1.694 mm = 1.1R⊙ is large enough to compensate possible misalignments expected to occur in PROBA-3/ASPIICS. Besides that we show that apodizing the edge of the internal occulter leads to additional suppression of the diffracted light.
Conclusions. We conclude that the most important misalignment is the tilt of the telescope with respect to the line connecting the center of the external occulter and the entrance aperture. Special care should be taken to co-align the external occulter and the coronagraph, which means co-aligning the diffraction fringe from the external occulter and the internal occulter. We suggest that the best orientation strategy is to point the coronagraph to the center of the external occulter.
Key words: Sun: corona / instrumentation: high angular resolution / telescopes / methods: numerical
© ESO 2018