Solar physicists from High Tatras observe on the next large telescope

Added by: V. Šmihula, 23.5.2011, 1930 visit

Stuff of Solar physics department of Astronomical institute SAS in Tatranská Lomnica investigate almost two decades our nearest star using excellent instruments of astronomical observatories on Canary Islands.

A destination of their observational campaigns has most often been the Vacuum tower telescope operated by the Kiepenheuer institute for solar physics in Freiburg on Observatorio del Teide on Tenerife. In the second half of the last decade Slovak solar physicists carried out their observational programs also on the Swedish solar telescope and the Dutch open telescope on La Palma. There is no doubt that each from these telescopes is a well established trademark and they present the best of current european solar physics. This year they succeeded in a contest about observational time on the next distinguished solar telescope THEMIS on Observatorio del Teide. By this Slovak solar physicists completed out their list of large, currently in operation solar telescopes on which they got an opportunity to observe.

THEMIS is a Ritchey-Chretien type of reflector with a primary mirror of diameter of 90 cm. A telescope tube is filled with helium to minimize internal turbulence, which otherwise spoils significantly an image. THEMIS primary task is a study of magnetic structures in the solar atmosphere by precise polarimetric measurements simultaneously in several spectral lines. THEMIS excelled in mapping of magnetic fields in prominences and filaments.

A journey of Slovak solar physicists to THEMIS went through preparing of observational proposal: Photospheric oscillations as drivers of chromospheric dynamic fibrils. The proposal was approved by anonymous referees and recommended for realization with a support of EU FP7: OPTICON Trans-national Access Programme. This programme supports selected observational campaigns carried out on twenty two large nocturnal and solar telescopes throughout the world including telescopes on Canary Islands, Hawaii and in Chile. The observational program involves two complementary parts proposed with regard to current capability of THEMIS. Its first part aims at observational testing of a model suggesting that dynamic fibrils are driven by 5-min oscillations penetrating from the photosphere into chromosphere along inclined magnetic fluxtubes. Relevant observations will be obtained by a new imaging spectrometer TUNIS (Tunable Universal Narrowband Imaging Spectrometer) and space solar observatory SDO. Its second parts aims at study of a 5-min oscillations in the solar atmosphere using simultaneous observations of several spectral lines probing the whole photosphere and lower chromosphere. The sensitivity of the spectral lines to small velocity changes of photospheric plasma will be compared at the same time. This part will be carried out by long-slit spectrograph MTR.

Observations at THEMIS are carried out from 13 to 24 May 2011. Then more challenging and time-consuming phase will follow involving reduction of observations, interpretation of results, and finally their publication. Detailed informations on the project and the observational campaign can be found on this webpage.

Mgr. Július Koza, PhD.
Astronomical institute SAS
Tatranská Lomnica

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Displays of control and observing computers in THEMIS.