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Laboratory Experiments Confirm the Polarization of Auroral Emissions

S. L. L. Bourgeois, L. Bosse, J. Lilensten, N. Gillet, S. Curaba, A. Delboulbé, S. Rochat

A series of experiments have shown recently that several auroral lines are polarized, when observed from the ground. However, this polarization may be caused by indirect light sources (from the ground or the sky) scattered in the lower atmosphere by Rayleigh and Lorenz-Mie scattering, or during the crossing of the ionospheric current sheets. Here, we present polarization measurements of the  N2+ blue (427.8 nm) and purple (391.4 nm) emissions in a laboratory confined setting that excludes any light pollution or scattering. We show that both lines are polarized, at a level comparable to that of the natural auroral observations. Our results furthermore show that the Degree of Linear Polarization depends on the magnetic conditions. This set of experiments confirms in a controlled environment the polarization of auroral emissions and constitutes a strong evidence in favor of auroral emission already polarized in the upper atmosphere.

Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 49, Number 13
2022 July

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia