Quantifying and containing the curse of high resolution coronal imaging
Abstract. Future missions such as Solar Orbiter (SO), InterHelioprobe, or Solar Probe aim at approaching the Sun closer than ever before, with on board some high resolution imagers (HRI) having a subsecond cadence and a pixel area of about (80 km)2 at the Sun during perihelion. In order to guarantee their scientific success, it is necessary to evaluate if the photon counts available at these resolution and cadence will provide a sufficient signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).
For example, if the inhomogeneities in the Quiet Sun emission prevail at higher resolution, one may hope to locally have more photon counts than in the case of a uniform source. It is relevant to quantify how inhomogeneous the quiet corona will be for a pixel pitch that is about 20 times smaller than in the case of SoHO/EIT, and 5 times smaller than TRACE.
We perform a first step in this direction by analyzing and characterizing the spatial intermittency of Quiet Sun images thanks to a multifractal analysis. We identify the parameters that specify the scale-invariance behavior. This identification allows next to select a family of multifractal processes, namely the Compound Poisson Cascades, that can synthesize artificial images having some of the scale-invariance properties observed on the recorded images.
The prevalence of self-similarity in Quiet Sun coronal images makes it relevant to study the ratio between the SNR present at SoHO/EIT images and in coarsened images. SoHO/EIT images thus play the role of "high resolution" images, whereas the "low-resolution" coarsened images are rebinned so as to simulate a smaller angular resolution and/or a larger distance to the Sun. For a fixed difference in angular resolution and in Spacecraft-Sun distance, we determine the proportion of pixels having a SNR preserved at high resolution given a particular increase in effective area. If scale-invariance continues to prevail at smaller scales, the conclusion reached with SoHO/EIT images can be transposed to the situation where the resolution is increased from SoHO/EIT to SO/HRI resolution at perihelion.