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Astron. Astrophys. 324, 344-356 (1997)

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Quantum interferences, hyperfine structure, and Raman scattering on the Sun

J.O. Stenflo

Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zentrum, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland

Received 13 November 1996 / Accepted 24 January 1997


Observations of the scattering polarization in the solar spectrum have opened a new window for diagnostics of the Sun. In the present paper a theoretical basis for the interpretation of the linearly polarized spectral structures is developed. It covers the general case of Raman scattering for entire atomic multiplets and includes the quantum interferences between the various possible excited states. Although the formulation allows for the presence of magnetic fields of arbitrary strength and direction, the theory is expressed in explicit form only for the case of zero magnetic field. It is applied to identify and interpret observed spectral signatures of quantum interferences between fine structure and hyperfine structure components, isotope effects, and fluorescence within multiplets.

Key words: polarization – scattering – Sun: general – atomic processes – radiative transfer

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: May 26, 1998