Recent laboratory tests of a hard x-ray solar flare polarimeter


McConnell ML, Macri JR, McClish M, Ryalls J. Recent laboratory tests of a hard x-ray solar flare polarimeter, in SPIE Proceedings. ; 1999.


We report on the development of a Compton scatter polarimeter for measuring the linear polarization of hard X-rays (50 - 300 keV) from solar flares. Such measurements would be useful for studying the directivity (or beaming) of the electrons that are accelerated in solar flares. We initially used a simple prototype polarimeter to successfully demonstrate the reliability of our Monte Carlo simulation code and to demonstrate our ability to generate a polarized photon source in the lab. We have recently fabricated a science model based on a modular design concept that places a self-contained polarimeter module on the front-end of a 5-inch position- sensitive PMT (PSPMT). The PSPMT is used to determine the Compton interaction location within an annular array of small plastic scintillator elements. Some of the photons that scatter within the plastic scintillator array are subsequently absorbed by a small centrally-located array of CsI(Tl) crystals that is read out by an independent multi-anode PMT. The independence of the two PMT readout schemes provides appropriate timing information for event triggering. We are currently testing this new polarimeter design in the laboratory to evaluate the performance characteristics of this design. Here we present the initial results from these laboratory tests. The modular nature of this design lends itself toward its accommodation on a balloon or spacecraft platform. A small array of such modules can provide a minimum detectable polarization (MDP) of less than 1% in the integrated 50 - 300 keV energy range for X-class solar flares.