The Strength and Structure of the Coronal Magnetic Field
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- Spangler, S.R. Space Sci Rev (2005) 121: 189. doi:10.1007/s11214-006-4719-7
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I discuss a method for determining the strength and spatial structure of the coronal magnetic field by observations of the Faraday rotation of a radio galaxy which is in conjunction with the Sun. Given a knowledge of the plasma density in the outer corona, and the magnetic field sector structure (both independently available), the strength of the coronal field can be determined, as well as the magnitude of spatial variations on scales of 1000 km to several solar radii. Such knowledge is crucial for testing computational models of the solar corona, which are prominently featured in this meeting. Results are presented from observations with the Very Large Array radio telescope of the radio galaxy 3C228 on August 16, 2003, when the line of sight to the source was at heliocentic distances of 7.1−6.2R⊙. The observations are consistent with a coronal magnetic field which is proportional to the inverse square of the distance in the range 6 ≤ r ≤ 10R⊙, and has a value of 39 mG at 6.2R⊙. The Faraday rotation is uniform across the source, indicating an absence of strong plasma inhomogeneity on spatial scales up to 35,000 km.