Our aim is to test potential solar prominence plasma diagnostics as obtained with the new solar capability of the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA). We investigate the thermal and plasma diagnostic potential of ALMA for solar prominences through the computation of brightness temperatures at ALMA wavelengths. The brightness temperature, for a chosen line of sight, is calculated using densities of hydrogen and helium obtained from a radiative transfer code under non local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE) conditions, as well as the input internal parameters of the prominence model in consideration. Two distinct sets of prominence models were used: isothermal-isobaric fine-structure threads, and large-scale structures with radially increasing temperature distributions representing the prominence-to-corona transition region. We compute brightness temperatures over the range of wavelengths in which ALMA is capable of observing (0.32 – 9.6mm), however we particularly focus on the bands available to solar observers in ALMA cycles 4 and 5, namely 2.6 – 3.6mm (Band 3) and 1.1 – 1.4mm (Band 6). We show how the computed brightness temperatures and optical thicknesses in our models vary with the plasma parameters (temperature and pressure) and the wavelength of observation. We then study how ALMA observables such as the ratio of brightness temperatures at two frequencies can be used to estimate the optical thickness and the emission measure for isothermal and non-isothermal prominences. From this study we conclude that, for both sets of models, ALMA presents a strong thermal diagnostic capability, provided that the interpretation of observations is supported by the use of non-LTE simulation results.
A. Rodger and N. Labrosse
Wed, 19 Apr 17
Comments: Submitted to Solar Physics