Diagnostics of the solar Corona from comparison between Faraday rotation measurements and magnetohydrodynamic simulations.
LE CHAT G., KASPER J.C., COHEN O. and SPANGLER S.R.
Abstract (from CDS):
Polarized natural radio sources passing behind the Sun experience Faraday rotation as a consequence of the electron density and magnetic field strength in coronal plasma. Since Faraday rotation is proportional to the product of the density and the component of the magnetic field along the line of sight of the observer, a model is required to interpret the observations and infer coronal structures. Faraday rotation observations have been compared with relatively ad hoc models of the corona. Here for the first time we compare these observations with magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) models of the solar corona driven by measurements of the photospheric magnetic field. We use observations made with the NRAO Very Large Array of 34 polarized radio sources occulted by the solar corona between 5 and 14 solar radii. The measurements were made during 1997 May, and 2005 March and April. We compare the observed Faraday rotation values with values extracted from MHD steady-state simulations of the solar corona. We find that (1) using a synoptic map of the solar magnetic field just one Carrington rotation off produces poorer agreements, meaning that the outer corona changes in the course of one month, even in solar minimum; (2) global MHD models of the solar corona driven by photospheric magnetic field measurements are generally able to reproduce Faraday rotation observations; and (3) some sources show significant disagreement between the model and the observations, which appears to be a function of the proximity of the line of sight to the large-scale heliospheric current sheet.