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Journal Article

High-resolution spectroscopy and spectropolarimetry of the total lunar eclipse January 2019


Mackebrandt,  Felix
Department Solar and Stellar Interiors, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS for Solar System Science at the University of Göttingen, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Strassmeier, K. G., Ilyin, I., Keles, E., Mallonn, M., Järvinen, A., Weber, M., et al. (2020). High-resolution spectroscopy and spectropolarimetry of the total lunar eclipse January 2019. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 635: A156. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201936091.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-477A-2
Context. Observations of the Earthshine off the Moon allow for the unique opportunity to measure the large-scale Earth atmosphere. Another opportunity is realized during a total lunar eclipse which, if seen from the Moon, is like a transit of the Earth in front of the Sun.

Aims. We thus aim at transmission spectroscopy of an Earth transit by tracing the solar spectrum during the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019.

Methods. Time series spectra of the Tycho crater were taken with the Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope in its polarimetric mode in Stokes IQUV at a spectral resolution of 130 000 (0.06 Å). In particular, the spectra cover the red parts of the optical spectrum between 7419–9067 Å. The spectrograph’s exposure meter was used to obtain a light curve of the lunar eclipse.

Results. The brightness of the Moon dimmed by 10.m75 during umbral eclipse. We found both branches of the O2 A-band almost completely saturated as well as a strong increase of H2O absorption during totality. A pseudo O2 emission feature remained at a wavelength of 7618 Å, but it is actually only a residual from different P-branch and R-branch absorptions. It nevertheless traces the eclipse. The deep penumbral spectra show significant excess absorption from the Na I 5890-Å doublet, the Ca II infrared triplet around 8600 Å, and the K I line at 7699 Å in addition to several hyper-fine-structure lines of Mn I and even from Ba II. The detections of the latter two elements are likely due to an untypical solar center-to-limb effect rather than Earth’s atmosphere. The absorption in Ca II and K I remained visible throughout umbral eclipse. Our radial velocities trace a wavelength dependent Rossiter-McLaughlin effect of the Earth eclipsing the Sun as seen from the Tycho crater and thereby confirm earlier observations. A small continuum polarization of the O2 A-band of 0.12% during umbral eclipse was detected at 6.3σ. No line polarization of the O2 A-band, or any other spectral-line feature, is detected outside nor inside eclipse. It places an upper limit of ≈0.2% on the degree of line polarization during transmission through Earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere.