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Processes and mechanisms governing the initiation and propagation of CMEs

Author(s): B. Vršnak

Journal: Annales Geophysicae
ISSN 0992-7689

Volume: 26;
Issue: 10;
Start page: 3089;
Date: 2008;
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The most important observational characteristics of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are summarized, emphasizing those aspects which are relevant for testing physical concepts employed to explain the CME take-off and propagation. In particular, the kinematics, scalings, and the CME-flare relationship are stressed. Special attention is paid to 3-dimensional (3-D) topology of the magnetic field structures, particularly to aspects related to the concept of semi-toroidal flux-rope anchored at both ends in the dense photosphere and embedded in the coronal magnetic arcade. Observations are compared with physical principles and concepts employed in explaining the CME phenomenon, and implications are discussed. A simple flux-rope model is used to explain various stages of the eruption. The model is able to reproduce all basic observational requirements: stable equilibrium and possible oscillations around equilibrium, metastable state and possible destabilization by an external disturbance, pre-eruptive gradual-rise until loss of equilibrium, possibility of fallback events and failed eruptions, relationship between impulsiveness of the CME acceleration and the source-region size, etc. However, it is shown that the purely ideal MHD process cannot account for highest observed accelerations which can attain values up to 10 km s−2. Such accelerations can be achieved if the process of reconnection beneath the erupting flux-rope is included into the model. Essentially, the role of reconnection is in changing the magnetic flux associated with the flux-rope current and supplying "fresh" poloidal magnetic flux to the rope. These effects help sustain the electric current flowing along the flux-rope, and consequently, reinforce and prolong the CME acceleration. The model straightforwardly explains the observed synchronization of the flare impulsive phase and the CME main-acceleration stage, as well as the correlations between various CME and flare parameters.

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