First Results from SWAN Lyman α solar wind mapper on SOHO
- Cite this article as:
- Bertaux, J.L., Quémerais, E., Lallement, R. et al. Sol Phys (1997) 175: 737. doi:10.1023/A:1004979605559
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After one year of almost flawless operation on board the SOHO spacecraft poised at L1 Lagrange point, we report the main features of SWAN observations. SWAN is mainly dedicated to the monitoring of the latitude distribution of the solar wind by the Lα method. Maps of sky Lα emissions were recorded througout the year. The region of maximum emission, located in the upwind hemisphere, deviates strongly from the pattern that could be expected from a solar wind constant with latitude. It is divided into two lobes by a depression aligned with the solar equatorial plane called the Lyα groove already noted in 1976 Prognoz data. The north lobe is much brighter than the south lobe. These two characteristics can be explained qualitatively by an enhanced ionization along the neutral sheet where the slow solar wind is concentrated, which results from the higher low-latitude solar wind mass flux as measured by Ulysses. The groove is the direct imprint on the sky of the enhanced carving by the slow solar wind, at this time of solar minimum, when the tilt angle of the neutral sheet is small. The question is still pending to predict what will happen with the ascending phase of the solar cycle. Observations of comets are briefly mentioned, with the ability of SWAN to monitor the H2O production of many comets. Operations of the instrument are briefly described, including some instrumental problems which could be solved by software modifications sent to the instrument.