in: Physical Review A (2019) 013420-1
When optical pumped magnetometers are aimed for the use in Earth magnetic field the orientation of the sensor to the field direction is of special importance to achieve accurate measurement result. Inaccuracy in relation to the heading of the sensor can be an even severe problem in the case of special operational configurations, such as for example the use of strong off-resonant pumping. We systematically study the main contributions to the heading error in systems that promise high field resolutions, namely the non-linear Zeeman splitting and the orientation dependent light shift. The good correspondence of our theoretical analysis to experimentally achieved data demonstrates that both of these effects are related to the modification of the dipole moment when the heading is changed. Also our results promise a compensation of both effects when using both circular polarization directions.