High-precision density measurements in the solar corona. I. Analysis methods and results for Fe XII and Fe XIII
Aims: The EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) instrument on board the Hinode satellite has access to some of the best coronal density diagnostics, and the high sensitivity of the instrument now allows electron number density, N_e, measurements to an unprecedented precision of up to ±5% in active regions. This paper gives a thorough overview of data analysis issues for the best diagnostics of Fe XII and Fe XIII and assesses the accuracy of the measurements.
Methods: Two density diagnostics each from Fe XII (λ186.88/λ195.12 and λ196.64/λ195.12) and Fe XIII (λ196.54/λ202.04 and λ203.82/λ202.04) are analysed in two active region datasets from 2007 May 3 and 6 that yield densities in the range 8.5≤ log (N_e/cm-3)≤ 11.0. The densities are derived using v5.2 of the CHIANTI atomic database. Blending, line fitting, and instrumental issues are discussed, and line fit parameters presented.
Results: The Fe XII and Fe XIII diagnostics show broadly the same trend in density across the active region, consistent with their similar temperatures of formation. However, the high precision of the EIS measurements demonstrates significant discrepancies of up to 0.5 dex in derived log Ne values, with Fe XII always giving higher densities than Fe XIII. The discrepancies may partly be due to real physical differences between the emitting regions of the two plasmas, but the dominant factor lies in the atomic models of the two ions. Two specific problems are identified for Fe XII λ196.64 and Fe XIII λ203.82: the former is found to be underestimated in strength by the CHIANTI atomic model, while the high-density limit of the λ203.82/λ202.04 ratio appears to be inaccurate in the CHIANTI atomic model. The small grating tilt of the EIS instrument is found to be very significant when deriving densities from emission lines separated by more than a few angstroms. Revised wavelengths of 196.518± 0.003 Å and 196.647± 0.003 Å are suggested for the Fe XIII λ196.54 and Fe XII λ196.64 lines, respectively.