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Solar magnetism eXplorer (SolmeX)

Exploring the magnetic field in the upper atmosphere of our closest star

Abstract

The magnetic field plays a pivotal role in many fields of Astrophysics. This is especially true for the physics of the solar atmosphere. Measuring the magnetic field in the upper solar atmosphere is crucial to understand the nature of the underlying physical processes that drive the violent dynamics of the solar corona—that can also affect life on Earth. SolmeX, a fully equipped solar space observatory for remote-sensing observations, will provide the first comprehensive measurements of the strength and direction of the magnetic field in the upper solar atmosphere. The mission consists of two spacecraft, one carrying the instruments, and another one in formation flight at a distance of about 200 m carrying the occulter to provide an artificial total solar eclipse. This will ensure high-quality coronagraphic observations above the solar limb. SolmeX integrates two spectro-polarimetric coronagraphs for off-limb observations, one in the EUV and one in the IR, and three instruments for observations on the disk. The latter comprises one imaging polarimeter in the EUV for coronal studies, a spectro-polarimeter in the EUV to investigate the low corona, and an imaging spectro-polarimeter in the UV for chromospheric studies. SOHO and other existing missions have investigated the emission of the upper atmosphere in detail (not considering polarization), and as this will be the case also for missions planned for the near future. Therefore it is timely that SolmeX provides the final piece of the observational quest by measuring the magnetic field in the upper atmosphere through polarimetric observations.

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Correspondence to Hardi Peter.

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Peter, H., Abbo, L., Andretta, V. et al. Solar magnetism eXplorer (SolmeX). Exp Astron 33, 271–303 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10686-011-9271-0

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Keywords

  • Sun: atmosphere
  • Magnetic fields
  • Space vehicles: instruments
  • Techniques: polarimetic
  • ESA Cosmic Vision