Exploring the Physics of the Corona with Total Solar Eclipse Observations

Shadia Rifai Habbal, John Cooper, Adrian Daw, Adalbert Ding, Miloslav Druckmuller, Ruth Esser, Judd Johnson, Huw Morgan

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This white paper is a call for a concerted effort to support total solar eclipse observations over the next decade, in particular for the 21 August 2017 eclipse which will traverse the US continent. With the recent advances in image processing techniques and detector technology, the time is ripe to capitalize on the unique diagnostic tools available in the visible and near infrared wavelength range to explore the physics of the corona. The advantage of coronal emission lines in this wavelength range, over their extreme ultraviolet counterparts, is (1) the significant radiative component in their excitation process (in addition to the collisional excitation), which allows for observations out to a few solar radii, (2) the higher spectral selectivity available for imaging, giving well-defined temperature responses for each bandpass (one line as opposed to many), and (3) the capability of polarization measurements in a number of spectral lines. Consequently, the evolution of the thermodynamic and magnetic properties of the coronal plasma can be explored starting from the solar surface out to a few solar radii, namely the most important region of the corona where the expansion of the solar magnetic field and the acceleration of the solar wind occur. Since the planning of eclipse observations will not be possible without the invaluable NASA-published total solar eclipse bulletins by Espenak and Andersen, a call is also made to ensure continued support for these efforts.
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StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 01 Awst 2011

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