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LASCO-C3 Observations of the K- and F-Coronae over 24 Years (1996 – 2019): Photopolarimetry and Electron Density Distribution

Abstract : We present the polarimetric analysis of the white-light images of the corona obtained with the Large-Angle Spectrometric COronagraph LASCO-C3 onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) from 1996 to 2019, leading to the separation of the K- and F-components and the derivation of the electron-density distribution. The analysis makes use of polarized sequences composed of three images obtained through three polarizers oriented at +60°, 0°, and -60°, complemented by a neighboring unpolarized image. However, the degradation of the 0° polarizer noticed in 1999 compelled us to reconstruct the corresponding images from those obtained with the two other polarizers and the unpolarized ones thereafter. The analysis closely follows the method developed for LASCO-C2 (Lamy et al. in Solar Phys. 295, 89, 2020) and implements the formalism of Mueller, albeit with additional difficulties notably the presence of a non-axially symmetric component of stray light. Critical corrections were derived from a SOHO roll sequence and from consistency criteria (e.g. the “tangential” direction of polarization). The quasi-uninterrupted photopolarimetric analysis of the outer corona over two complete Solar Cycles 23 and 24 was successfully achieved and our final results encompass the characterization of its polarization, of its polarized radiance, of the two-dimensional electron density, and of the K-corona. Comparison between the C3 and C2 results in the region where their fields of view overlap shows an overall agreement. The C3 results are further in agreement with those of eclipses and radio-ranging measurements to an elongation of ≈10 R⊙ but tend to diverge further out. Although the coronal polarization out to 20 R⊙ is still highly correlated with the temporal variation of the total magnetic field, this divergence probably results from the increasing polarization of the F-corona with increasing solar elongation.
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Philippe Lamy, Hugo Gilardy, Antoine Llebaria, Eric Quémerais, Fabrice Ernandez. LASCO-C3 Observations of the K- and F-Coronae over 24 Years (1996 – 2019): Photopolarimetry and Electron Density Distribution. Solar Physics, Springer Verlag, 2021, 296 (4), pp.76. ⟨10.1007/s11207-021-01819-z⟩. ⟨insu-03212232⟩

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