RHESSI/SAS Observations of the Optical Solar Limb Over a Full Solar Cycle

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Martin D Fivian, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States and Hugh S Hudson, Space Sciences Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States
The Solar Aspect System (SAS) of the RHESSI satellite measures the optical solar limb in the red continuum with a cadence typically set at 16 samples/s in each of three linear CCD sensors. RHESSI has observed the Sun continuously since its launch in early 2002, and we have acquired a unique data set ranging over a full 11-year solar cycle and consisting of about 3x10^10 single data points. Analyzing data for an initial period in 2004, these measurements have led to the most accurate oblateness measurement to date, 8.01+-0.14 milli arcsec (Fivian et al., 2008), a value consistent with models predicting an oblateness from surface rotation. An excess oblateness term can be attributed to magnetic elements possibly located in the enhanced network. We have started to also study photometric properties of our data. Previous observations of latitude-dependent brightness variations at the limb had suggested the presence of a polar temperature excess as large as 1.5 K. The RHESSI observations, made with a rotating telescope in space, have great advantages in the rejection of systematic errors in the very precise photometry required for such an observation. Our new measurements of latitude-dependent brightness variations at the limb lead to a quadrupolar term (a pole-to-equator temperature variation) of the order of 0.1 K, an order of magnitude smaller than previously reported. We present the analysis of these unique data, an overview of some results and we report on our progress as we apply our developed analysis method to the whole 12 years of data.