First View of the Extended Green-Line Emission Corona At Solar Activity Minimum Using the Lasco-C1 Coronagraph on Soho
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The newly developed C1 coronagraph as part of the Large-Angle Spectroscopic Coronagraph (LASCO) on board the SOHO spacecraft has been operating since January 29, 1996. We present observations obtained in the first three months of operation. The green-line emission corona can be made visible throughout the instrument's full field of view, i.e., from 1.1 R⊙ out to 3.2 R⊙ (measured from Sun center). Quantitative evaluations based on calibrations cannot yet be performed, but some basic signatures show up even now: (1) There are often bright and apparently closed loop systems centered at latitudes of 30° to 45° in both hemispheres. Their helmet-like extensions are bent towards the equatorial plane. Farther out, they merge into one large equatorial ‘streamer sheet’ clearly discernible out to 32 R⊙. (2) At mid latitudes a more diffuse pattern is usually visible, well separated from the high-latitude loops and with very pronounced variability. (3) All high-latitude structures remain stable on time scales of several days, and no signature of transient disruption of high-latitude streamers was observed in these early data. (4) Within the first 4 months of observation, only one single ‘fast’ feature was observed moving outward at a speed of 70 km s-1 close to the equator. Faster events may have escaped attention because of data gaps. (5) The centers of high-latitude loops are usually found at the positions of magnetic neutral lines in photospheric magnetograms. The large-scale streamer structure follows the magnetic pattern fairly precisely. Based on our observations we conclude that the shape and stability of the heliospheric current sheet at solar activity minimum are probably due to high-latitude streamers rather than to the near-equatorial activity belt.
KeywordsCurrent Sheet Neutral Line Heliospheric Current Sheet Solar Activity Minimum Streamer Structure
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