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Paper: Magnetic Field Dependence of Polarized Scattering on Potassium
Volume: 405, Solar Polarization 5: In Honor of Jan Olof Stenflo
Page: 113
Authors: Thalmann, C.; Stenflo, J.O.; Feller, A.; Cacciani, A.
Abstract: The polarization that is generated by scattering of light on atoms depends on the atomic quantum number structure. According to standard scattering theory the sodium D1 (5896Å) and potassium D1 (7699Å) lines should be intrinsically unpolarizable. Since however the existence of D1 scattering polarization in the solar spectrum has been well documented but resisted theoretical explanations, we have carried out a laboratory experiment to find out if this is a problem of solar physics or of quantum physics. We find that the polarization matrix for scattering of the Stokes vector in the potassium D1 line exhibits a rich structure that changes dramatically when the field strength is varied in the sub-gauss regime. In contrast, standard scattering theory predicts zero polarization, even when optical pumping of the magnetic sub-levels of the hyperfine structure multiplet is accounted for.
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