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The quasi-stationary coronal magnetic field and electron density as determined from a Faraday rotation experiment

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Abstract

Pioneer VI was launched into a circumsolar orbit on December 16, 1965, and was occulted by the sun in the latter half of November, 1968. During the occultation period, the 2292-MHz S-band telemetry carrier underwent Faraday rotation due to the interaction of this signal with the plasma and magnetic field in the solar corona. The NASA/JPL 210-ft diameter antenna of the Deep Space Network near Barstow, California, was used for the measurement. The antenna feed was modified for automatic polarization tracking for this experiment.

The measurement results are interpreted with a theoretical model of the solar corona. This model consists of a modified Allen-Baumbach electron density and a coronal magnetic field calculated both from Mount Wilson magnetograph observations using a source surface model and field extrapolations from the Explorer 33 satellite magnetometer. The observations and the calculated rotation show general agreement with respect to magnitude, sense, and timing, suggesting the source-surface model and field extrapolations from 1 AU are a valid technique to obtain the magnetic field in the corona from 4 to 12 solar radii. Variations present can easily be ascribed to density enhancements known to be present in the corona. Longitudinal variations of the density in the corona cannot be obtained from coronagraph observations, and thus a purely radial variation was assumed. An improved fit to the Faraday rotation data is obtained with an equatorial electron density

$$N = 10^8 \left( {\frac{{6000}}{{R^{10} }} + \frac{{0.002}}{{R^2 }}} \right)...{\text{ cm}}^{{\text{ - 3}}} {\text{ (4 < }}R < 12){\text{ }}...$$

where R is in solar radii.

The work of W. V. T. Rusch and J. E. Ohlson was supported in part by research sponsored by the Joint Services Electronics Program through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under Grant AF-AFOSR 69-1622A at the University of Southern California.

The work done by K. H. Schatten was in part supported by the National Academy of Science on a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship.

The work of J. M. Wilcox was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research under Contract Nonr 3656(26), by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant NGR 05-003-230, and by the National Science Foundation under Grant GA-1319 at the University of California at Berkeley.

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This paper presents the results of one phase of research carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under Contract No. NAS 7-100, sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Stelzried, C.T., Levy, G.S., Sato, T. et al. The quasi-stationary coronal magnetic field and electron density as determined from a Faraday rotation experiment. Sol Phys 14, 440–456 (1970). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00221330

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Keywords

  • Solar Corona
  • Faraday Rotation
  • Solar Radius
  • Coronal Magnetic Field
  • Deep Space Network