A. Feller

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany

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Publications (41)76.16 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Advanced Astronomy for Heliophysics Plus (ADAHELI+) is a project concept for a small solar and space weather mission with a budget compatible with an European Space Agency (ESA) S-class mission, including launch, and a fast development cycle. ADAHELI+ was submitted to the European Space Agency by a European-wide consortium of solar physics research institutes in response to the Call for a small mission opportunity for a launch in 2017,of March 9, 2012. The ADAHELI+ project builds on the heritage of the former ADAHELI mission, which had successfully completed its phase-A study under the Italian Space Agency 2007 Small Mission Programme, thus proving the soundness and feasibility of its innovative low-budget design. ADAHELI+ is a solar space mission with two main instruments: ISODY+: an imager, based on Fabry-Pé rot interferometers, whose design is optimized to the acquisition of highest cadence, long-duration, multiline spectropolarimetric images in the visible/near-infrared region of the solar spectrum. XSPO: an X-ray polarimeter for solar flares in X-rays with energies in the 15 to 35 keV range. ADAHELI+ is capable of performing observations that cannot be addressed by other currently planned solar space missions, due to their limited telemetry, or by ground-based facilities, due to the problematic effect of the terrestrial atmosphere. © The Authors. Published by SPIE under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Distribution or reproduction of this work in whole or in part requires full attribution of the original publication, including its DOI.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015
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    ABSTRACT: High levels of horizontal magnetic flux have been reported in the quiet-Sun internetwork, often based on Stokes profile inversions. Here we introduce a new method for deducing the inclination of magnetic elements and use it to test magnetic field inclinations from inversions. We determine accurate positions of a set of small, bright magnetic elements in high spatial resolution images sampling different photospheric heights obtained by the Sunrise balloon-borne solar observatory. Together with estimates of the formation heights of the employed spectral bands, these provide us with the inclinations of the magnetic features. We also compute the magnetic inclination angle of the same magnetic features from the inversion of simultaneously recorded Stokes parameters. Our new, geometric method returns nearly vertical fields (average inclination of around 14 deg with a relatively narrow distribution having a standard deviation of 6 deg). In strong contrast to this, the traditionally used inversions give almost horizontal fields (average inclination of 75+-8 deg) for the same small magnetic features, whose linearly polarised Stokes profiles are adversely affected by noise. The almost vertical field of bright magnetic features from our geometric method is clearly incompatible with the nearly horizontal magnetic fields obtained from the inversions. This indicates that the amount of magnetic flux in horizontal fields deduced from inversions is overestimated in the presence of weak Stokes signals, in particular if Stokes Q and U are close to or under the noise level. By combining the proposed method with inversions we are not just improving the inclination, but also the field strength. This technique allows us to analyse features that are not reliably treated by inversions, thus greatly extending our capability to study the complete magnetic field of the quiet Sun.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: Bright points (BPs) in the solar photosphere are radiative signatures of magnetic elements described by slender flux tubes located in the darker intergranular lanes. They contribute to the ultraviolet (UV) flux variations over the solar cycle and hence may influence the Earth's climate. Here we combine high-resolution UV and spectro-polarimetric observations of BPs by the SUNRISE observatory with 3D radiation MHD simulations. Full spectral line syntheses are performed with the MHD data and a careful degradation is applied to take into account all relevant instrumental effects of the observations. It is demonstrated that the MHD simulations reproduce the measured distributions of intensity at multiple wavelengths, line-of-sight velocity, spectral line width, and polarization degree rather well. Furthermore, the properties of observed BPs are compared with synthetic ones. These match also relatively well, except that the observations display a tail of large and strongly polarized BPs not found in the simulations. The higher spatial resolution of the simulations has a significant effect, leading to smaller and more numerous BPs. The observation that most BPs are weakly polarized is explained mainly by the spatial degradation, the stray light contamination, and the temperature sensitivity of the Fe I line at 5250.2 \AA{}. The Stokes $V$ asymmetries of the BPs increase with the distance to their center in both observations and simulations, consistent with the classical picture of a production of the asymmetry in the canopy. This is the first time that this has been found also in the internetwork. Almost vertical kilo-Gauss fields are found for 98 % of the synthetic BPs. At the continuum formation height, the simulated BPs are on average 190 K hotter than the mean quiet Sun, their mean BP field strength is 1750 G, supporting the flux-tube paradigm to describe BPs.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: The migration of magnetic bright point-like features (MBP) in the lower solar atmosphere reflects the dispersal of magnetic flux as well as the horizontal flows of the atmospheric layer they are embedded in. We analyse trajectories of the proper motion of intrinsically magnetic, isolated internetwork Ca II H MBPs (mean lifetime 461 +- 9 sec) to obtain their diffusivity behaviour. We use seeing-free high spatial and temporal resolution image sequences of quiet-Sun, disc-centre observations obtained in the Ca II H 3968 {\AA} passband of the Sunrise Filter Imager (SuFI) onboard the Sunrise balloon-borne solar observatory. Small MBPs in the internetwork are automatically tracked. The trajectory of each MBP is then calculated and described by a diffusion index ({\gamma}) and a diffusion coefficient (D). In addition, we explore the distribution of the diffusion indices with the help of a Monte Carlo simulation. We find {\gamma} = 1.69 +- 0.08 and D = 257 +- 32 km^2/s averaged over all MBPs. Trajectories of most MBPs are classified as super-diffusive, i.e., {\gamma} > 1, with the determined {\gamma} being to our knowledge the largest obtained so far. A direct correlation between D and time-scale ({\tau}) determined from trajectories of all MBPs is also obtained. We discuss a simple scenario to explain the diffusivity of the observed, relatively short-lived MBPs while they migrate within a small area in a supergranule (i.e., an internetwork area). We show that the scatter in the {\gamma} values obtained for individual MBPs is due to their limited lifetimes. The super-diffusive MBPs can be well-described as random walkers (due to granular evolution and intergranular turbu- lence) superposed on a large systematic (background) velocity, caused by granular, mesogranular and supergranular flows.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We present a PSF for SDO/HMI and discuss the effects of its removal on the apparent properties of solar surface phenomena in HMI data. The PSF was retrieved from observations of Venus in transit by matching it to the convolution of a model of the venusian disc and solar background with a guess PSF. Observations recorded near in time to the transit of Venus were corrected for instrumental scattered light by the deconvolution with the PSF. Granulation contrast in restored HMI data is greatly enhanced relative to the original data and exhibit reasonable agreement with numerical simulations. Image restoration enhanced the apparent intensity and pixel averaged magnetic field strength of photospheric magnetic features significantly. For small-scale magnetic features, restoration enhanced intensity contrast in the continuum and core of the Fe I 6173 \AA{} line by a factor of 1.3, and the magnetogram signal by a factor of 1.7. For sunspots and pores, the enhancement varied strongly within and between features, being more acute for smaller features. Magnetic features are also rendered smaller, as signal smeared onto the surrounding quiet Sun is recovered. Image restoration increased the apparent amount of magnetic flux above the noise floor by a factor of about 1.2, most of the gain coming from the quiet Sun. Line-of-sight velocity due to granulation and supergranulation is enhanced by a factor of 1.4 to 2.1, depending on position on the solar disc. There are indications that the PSF varies across the FOV, with time and between the two CCDs. However, all these variations were found to be relatively small, such that the derived PSF can be applied to HMI data from both CCDs, over the period examined without introducing significant error. Image restoration affects the measured radiant, magnetic and dynamic properties of solar surface phenomena sufficiently to significantly impact interpretation.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We aim to improve our picture of the low chromosphere in the quiet-Sun internetwork by investigating the intensity, horizontal velocity, size and lifetime variations of small bright points (BPs; diameter smaller than 0.3 arcsec) observed in the Ca II H 3968 {\AA} passband along with their magnetic field parameters, derived from photospheric magnetograms. Several high-quality time series of disc-centre, quiet-Sun observations from the Sunrise balloon-borne solar telescope, with spatial resolution of around 100 km on the solar surface, have been analysed to study the dynamics of BPs observed in the Ca II H passband and their dependence on the photospheric vector magnetogram signal. Parameters such as horizontal velocity, diameter, intensity and lifetime histograms of the isolated internetwork and magnetic Ca II H BPs were determined. Mean values were found to be 2.2 km/s, 0.2 arcsec (150 km), 1.48 average Ca II H quiet-Sun and 673 sec, respectively. Interestingly, the brightness and the horizontal velocity of BPs are anti-correlated. Large excursions (pulses) in horizontal velocity, up to 15 km/s, are present in the trajectories of most BPs. These could excite kink waves travelling into the chromosphere and possibly the corona, which we estimate to carry an energy flux of 310 W/m^2, sufficient to heat the upper layers, although only marginally. The stable observing conditions of Sunrise and our technique for identifying and tracking BPs have allowed us to determine reliable parameters of these features in the internetwork. Thus we find, e.g., that they are considerably longer lived than previously thought. The large velocities are also reliable, and may excite kink waves. Although these wave are (marginally) energetic enough to heat the quiet corona, we expect a large additional contribution from larger magnetic elements populating the network and partly also the internetwork.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: This topical issue of Astronomische Nachrichten/Astronomical Notes is a collection of reference articles covering the GREGOR solar telescope, its science capabilities, its subsystems, and its dedicated suite of instruments for high-resolution observations of the Sun. Because ground-based telescopes have life spans of several decades, it is only natural that they continuously reinvent themselves. Literally, the GREGOR telescope builds on the foundations of the venerable Gregory-Coudé Telescope (GCT) at Observatorio del Teide, Tenerife, Spain. Acknowledging the fact that new discoveries in observational solar physics are driven by larger apertures to collect more photons and to scrutinize the Sun in finer detail, the GCT was decommissioned and the building was made available to the GREGOR project.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Astronomische Nachrichten
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    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Astronomische Nachrichten
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    ABSTRACT: In this review, we look back upon the literature, which had the GREGOR solar telescope project as its subject including science cases, telescope subsystems, and post-focus instruments. The articles date back to the year 2000, when the initial concepts for a new solar telescope on Tenerife were first presented at scientific meetings. This comprehensive bibliography contains literature until the year 2012, i.e., the final stages of commissioning and science verification. Taking stock of the various publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings also provides the "historical" context for the reference articles in this special issue of Astronomische Nachrichten/Astronomical Notes.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Astronomische Nachrichten
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    ABSTRACT: In the context of the conceptual design study for the European Solar Telescope (EST) we have investigated different metallic mirror coatings in terms of reflectivity, polarization properties and durability. Samples of the following coating types have been studied: bare aluminum, silver with different dielectric layers for protection and UV enhancement, and an aluminum-silver combination. From 2009 to 2011 we have carried out a long-term durability test under realistic observing conditions at the VTT solar telescope of the Observatorio del Teide (Tenerife, Spain), accompanied by repeated reflectivity measurements in the EST spectral working range (0.3 - 20 μm), and by polarization measurements in the visible range. The test results allow us to find the optimum coatings for the different mirrors in the EST beampath and to eventually assess aging effects and re-coating cycles. The results of the polarization measurements are a valuable input for an EST telescope polarization model, helping to meet the stringent requirements on polarimetric accuracy.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2012 · Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
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    ABSTRACT: This communication presents a family of spectrographs designed for the European Solar Telescope. They can operate in four different configurations: a long slit standard spectrograph (LsSS), two devices based on subtractive double pass (TUNIS and MSDP) and one based on an integral field, multi-slit, multi-wavelength configuration. The combination of them composes the multi-purpose grating spectrograph of EST, focused on supporting the different science cases of the solar photosphere and chromosphere in the spectral range from 3900 Å to 23000 Å. The different alternatives are made compatible by using the same base spectrographs and different selectable optical elements corresponding to specific subsystems of each configuration.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Sep 2012
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    ABSTRACT: The SUNRISE balloon-borne solar observatory consists of a 1m aperture Gregory telescope, a UV filter imager, an imaging vector polarimeter, an image stabilization system, and further infrastructure. The first science flight of SUNRISE yielded high-quality data that reveal the structure, dynamics, and evolution of solar convection, oscillations, and magnetic fields at a resolution of around 100 km in the quiet Sun. Here we describe very briefly the mission and the first results obtained from the SUNRISE data, which include a number of discoveries.
    No preview · Article · May 2012 · Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
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    K. Nagaraju · A. Feller · S. Ihle · H. Soltau
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    ABSTRACT: High-precision full-Stokes polarimetry at near diffraction limited spatial resolution is important to understand numerous physical processes on the Sun. In view of the next generation of ground based solar telescopes, we have explored, through numerical simulation, how polarimetric accuracy is affected by atmospheric seeing, especially in the case of large aperture telescopes with increasing ratio between mirror diameter and Fried parameter. In this work we focus on higher-order wavefront aberrations. The numerical generation of time-dependent turbulence phase screens is based on the well-known power spectral method and on the assumption that the temporal evolution is mainly caused by wind driven propagation of frozen-in turbulence across the telescope. To analyze the seeing induced cross-talk between the Stokes parameters we consider polarization modulation scheme based on a continuously rotating waveplate with rotation frequencies between 1 Hz and several 100 Hz. Further, we have started the development of a new fast solar imaging polarimeter, based on pnCCD detector technology from PNSensor. The first detector will have a size of 264 x 264 pixels and will work at frame rates of up to 1kHz, combined with a very low readout noise of 2-3 e- ENC. The camera readout electronics will allow for buffering and accumulation of images corresponding to the different phases of the fast polarization modulation. A high write-out rate (about 30 to 50 frames/s) will allow for post-facto image reconstruction. We will present the concept and the expected performance of the new polarimeter, based on the above-mentioned simulations of atmospheric seeing.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2011 · Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
  • L. Kleint · A. Feller · D. Gisler
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    ABSTRACT: Context. Narrow-band spectropolarimetry is used to obtain information about the velocity and magnetic field structure of the solar atmosphere. Several types of instruments are suited to these observations, each with different advantages and drawbacks. Aims: We set up a novel instrument combination using two LiNbO3 Fabry Pérot interferometers (FPI), a high-resolution grating spectrograph, and the ZIMPOL system for polarimetry at IRSOL. With this system, we can carry out imaging spectropolarimetry of any spectral line from 390 to 660 nm, with a spectral resolution of 30 mÅ at 630 nm. Methods: We describe the setup, its properties, and calculate the limitations induced by the FPI and the spectrograph. We carry out spectropolarimetric observations of the sunspot AR 11087 in different spectral lines with suitable Landé factors that could be used to derive the magnetic field strength in different height ranges of the solar atmosphere. Results: The main advantage of our instrument compared to similar systems is that no special prefilters are required for each spectral line. A slight disadvantage is the spatial smearing induced by the dispersion of the finite transmission profiles of the FPI, which however is of the same magnitude as the seeing-limited resolution of 1-2" at IRSOL. Conclusions: We demonstrate that this particular instrument combination is well suited to spectropolarimetry at IRSOL.
    No preview · Article · May 2011 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We present a performance study of a phase diversity (PD) image reconstruction algorithm based on artificial solar images obtained from MHD simulations and on seeing-free data obtained with the SuFI instrument on the Sunrise balloon borne observatory. The artificial data were altered by applying different levels of degradation with synthesised wavefront errors and noise. The PD algorithm was modified by changing the number of fitted polynomials, the shape of the pupil and the applied noise filter. The obtained reconstructions are evaluated by means of the resulting rms intensity contrast and by the conspicuousness of appearing artifacts. The results show that PD is a robust method which consistently recovers the initial unaffected image contents. The efficiency of the reconstruction is, however, strongly dependent on the number of used fitting polynomials and the noise level of the images. If the maximum number of fitted polynomials is higher than 21, artifacts have to be accepted and for noise levels higher than 10-3 the commonly used noise filtering techniques are not able to avoid amplification of spurious structures.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: A brief description of the new 1.5-meter solar telescope GREGOR located at the Observatorio del Teide in Tenerife will be given. GREGOR will provide a spatial resolution of about 75 km on the Sun, and with its light collecting capability we will be able to study the development of small magnetic features with high cadence. From the beginning, it will be equipped with the GREGOR Fabry-Pérot Interferometer (GFPI) for the visible spectral range and with a GRating Infrared Spectrograph (GRIS). Both postfocus instruments can be combined with a polarimeter, and in both cases the light is modulated by two ferro-electric liquid crystals. A calibration unit can be inserted to determine the instrumental polarization. Because of the altazimuthal mount, time-dependent rotation of the polarimetric reference plane is introduced, and we have to develop a polarization model of the telescope. Measurements to verify this model are in preparation.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2011
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    ABSTRACT: The first science flight of the balloon-borne Sunrise telescope took place in June 2009 from ESRANGE (near Kiruna/Sweden) to Somerset Island in northern Canada. We describe the scientific aims and mission concept of the project and give an overview and a description of the various hardware components: the 1-m main telescope with its postfocus science instruments (the UV filter imager SuFI and the imaging vector magnetograph IMaX) and support instruments (image stabilizing and light distribution system ISLiD and correlating wavefront sensor CWS), the optomechanical support structure and the instrument mounting concept, the gondola structure and the power, pointing, and telemetry systems, and the general electronics architecture. We also explain the optimization of the structural and thermal design of the complete payload. The preparations for the science flight are described, including AIV and ground calibration of the instruments. The course of events during the science flight is outlined, up to the recovery activities. Finally, the in-flight performance of the instrumentation is discussed. KeywordsInstrumentation and data management-Integrated sun observations-Magnetic fields, photosphere
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Solar Physics
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    ABSTRACT: Until today, the small size of magnetic elements in quiet-Sun areas has required the application of indirect methods, such as the line-ratio technique or multi-component inversions, to infer their physical properties. A consistent match to the observed Stokes profiles could only be obtained by introducing a magnetic filling factor that specifies the fraction of the observed pixel filled with magnetic field. Here, we investigate the properties of a small magnetic patch in the quiet Sun observed with the IMaX magnetograph on board the balloon-borne telescope SUNRISE with unprecedented spatial resolution and low instrumental stray light. We apply an inversion technique based on the numerical solution of the radiative transfer equation to retrieve the temperature stratification and the field strength in the magnetic patch. The observations can be well reproduced with a one-component, fully magnetized atmosphere with a field strength exceeding 1 kG and a significantly enhanced temperature in the mid to upper photosphere with respect to its surroundings, consistent with semi-empirical flux tube models for plage regions. We therefore conclude that, within the framework of a simple atmospheric model, the IMaX measurements resolve the observed quiet-Sun flux tube.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · The Astrophysical Journal Letters
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    ABSTRACT: Bright points (BPs) are manifestations of small magnetic elements in the solar photosphere. Their brightness contrast not only gives insight into the thermal state of the photosphere (and chromosphere) in magnetic elements, but also plays an important role in modulating the solar total and spectral irradiance. Here, we report on simultaneous high-resolution imaging and spectropolarimetric observations of BPs using SUNRISE balloon-borne observatory data of the quiet Sun at the disk center. BP contrasts have been measured between 214 nm and 525 nm, including the first measurements at wavelengths below 388 nm. The histograms of the BP peak brightness show a clear trend toward broader contrast distributions and higher mean contrasts at shorter wavelengths. At 214 nm, we observe a peak brightness of up to five times the mean quiet-Sun value, the highest BP contrast so far observed. All BPs are associated with a magnetic signal, although in a number of cases it is surprisingly weak. Most of the BPs show only weak downflows, the mean value being 240 m s–1, but some display strong down- or upflows reaching a few km s–1.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · The Astrophysical Journal Letters
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    ABSTRACT: We present high-resolution images of the Sun in the near-ultraviolet spectral range between 214 nm and 397 nm as obtained from the first science flight of the 1 m SUNRISE balloon-borne solar telescope. The quiet-Sun rms intensity contrasts found in this wavelength range are among the highest values ever obtained for quiet-Sun solar surface structures—up to 32.8% at a wavelength of 214 nm. We compare the rms contrasts obtained from the observational data with theoretical intensity contrasts obtained from numerical magnetohydrodynamic simulations. For 388 nm and 312 nm the observations agree well with the numerical simulations whereas at shorter wavelengths discrepancies between observed and simulated contrasts remain.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · The Astrophysical Journal Letters