Journal Article

Measurement of the electron density and magnetic field of the solar wind using millisecond pulsars

X. P. You, W. A. Coles, G. B. Hobbs and R. N. Manchester

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 422, issue 2, pages 1160-1165
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.20688.x
Measurement of the electron density and magnetic field of the solar wind using millisecond pulsars

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The magnetic field of the solar wind near the Sun is very difficult to measure directly. Measurements of Faraday rotation of linearly polarized radio sources occulted by the solar wind provide a unique opportunity to estimate this magnetic field, and the technique has been widely used in the past. However, Faraday rotation is a path integral of the product of electron density and the projection of the magnetic field on the path. The electron density near the Sun can be measured by several methods, but it is quite variable. Here we show that it is possible to measure the path-integrated electron density and the Faraday rotation simultaneously at 6–10 R using millisecond pulsars as the linearly polarized radio source. By analysing the Faraday rotation measurements with and without the simultaneous electron density observations, we show that these observations significantly improve the accuracy of the magnetic field estimates.

Keywords: magnetic fields – methods: data analysis; solar wind; pulsars: general

Journal Article.  4151 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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