Browsing by Subject "Coronal mass ejections"

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  • Harrison, R. A.; Davies, J. A.; Barnes, D.; Byrne, J. P.; Perry, C. H.; Bothmer, V.; Eastwood, J. P.; Gallagher, P. T.; Kilpua, E. K. J.; Möstl, C.; Rodriguez, L.; Rouillard, A. P.; Odstril, D. (2018)
    We present a statistical analysis of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) imaged by the Heliospheric Imager (HI) instruments on board NASA's twin-spacecraft STEREO mission between April 2007 and August 2017 for STEREO-A and between April 2007 and September 2014 for STEREO-B. The analysis exploits a catalogue that was generated within the FP7 HELCATS project. Here, we focus on the observational characteristics of CMEs imaged in the heliosphere by the inner (HI-1) cameras, while following papers will present analyses of CME propagation through the entire HI fields of view. More specifically, in this paper we present distributions of the basic observational parameters - namely occurrence frequency, central position angle (PA) and PA span - derived from nearly 2000 detections of CMEs in the heliosphere by HI-1 on STEREO-A or STEREO-B from the minimum between Solar Cycles 23 and 24 to the maximum of Cycle 24; STEREO-A analysis includes a further 158 CME detections from the descending phase of Cycle 24, by which time communication with STEREO-B had been lost. We compare heliospheric CME characteristics with properties of CMEs observed at coronal altitudes, and with sunspot number. As expected, heliospheric CME rates correlate with sunspot number, and are not inconsistent with coronal rates once instrumental factors/differences in cataloguing philosophy are considered. As well as being more abundant, heliospheric CMEs, like their coronal counterparts, tend to be wider during solar maximum. Our results confirm previous coronagraph analyses suggesting that CME launch sites do not simply migrate to higher latitudes with increasing solar activity. At solar minimum, CMEs tend to be launched from equatorial latitudes, while at maximum, CMEs appear to be launched over a much wider latitude range; this has implications for understanding the CME/solar source association. Our analysis provides some supporting evidence for the systematic dragging of CMEs to lower latitude as they propagate outwards.
  • Barnes, D.; Davies, J. A.; Harrison, R. A.; Byrne, J. P.; Perry, C. H.; Bothmer, V.; Eastwood, J. P.; Gallagher, P. T.; Kilpua, E. K. J.; Möstl, C.; Rodriguez, L.; Rouillard, A. P.; Odstrcil, D. (2019)
    Recent observations with the Heliospheric Imagers (HIs) onboard the twin NASA Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft have provided unprecedented observations of a large number of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the inner heliosphere. In this article we discuss the generation of the HIGeoCAT CME catalogue and perform a statistical analysis of its events. The catalogue was generated as part of the EU FP7 HELCATS (Heliospheric Cataloguing, Analysis and Techniques Service) project ( It is created by generating time/elongation maps for CMEs using observations from the inner (HI-1) and outer (HI-2) cameras along a position angle close to the CME apex. Next, we apply single-spacecraft geometric-fitting techniques to determine the kinematic properties of these CMEs, including their speeds, propagation directions, and launch times. The catalogue contains a total of 1455 events (801 from STEREO-A and 654 from STEREO-B) from April 2007 to the end of August 2017. We perform a statistical analysis of the properties of CMEs in HIGeoCAT and compare the results with those from the Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) CDAW catalogues (Yashiro etal.J.Geophys. Res. Space Phys.109, A07105, 2004) and the COR-2 catalogue of Vourlidas etal. (Astrophys. J.838, 141, 2004) during the same period. We find that the distributions of both speeds and latitudes for the HIGeoCAT CMEs correlate with the sunspot number over the solar cycle. We also find that the HI-derived CME speed distributions are generally consistent with coronagraph catalogues over the solar cycle, albeit with greater absolute speeds due to the differing methods with which each is derived.
  • Cairns, Iver H.; Kozarev, Kamen A.; Nitta, Nariaki V.; Agueda, Neus; Battarbee, Markus; Carley, Eoin P.; Dresing, Nina; Gomez-Herrero, Raul; Klein, Karl-Ludwig; Lario, David; Pomoell, Jens; Salas-Matamoros, Carolina; Veronig, Astrid M.; Li, Bo; McCauley, Patrick (2020)
    Solar energetic particles (SEPs) are an important product of solar activity. They are connected to solar active regions and flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs), EUV waves, shocks, Type II and III radio emissions, and X-ray bursts. These phenomena are major probes of the partition of energy in solar eruptions, as well as for the organization, dynamics, and relaxation of coronal and interplanetary magnetic fields. Many of these phenomena cause terrestrial space weather, posing multiple hazards for humans and their technology from space to the ground. Since particular flares, shocks, CMEs, and EUV waves produce SEP events but others do not, since propagation effects from the low corona to 1 AU appear important for some events but not others, and since Type II and III radio emissions and X-ray bursts are sometimes produced by energetic particles leaving these acceleration sites, it is necessary to study the whole system with a multi-frequency and multi-instrument perspective that combines both in-situ and remote observations with detailed modeling of phenomena. This article demonstrates this comprehensive approach and shows its necessity by analyzing a trio of unusual and striking solar eruptions, radio and X-ray bursts, and SEP events that occurred on 4 November 2015. These events show both strong similarities and differences from standard events and each other, despite having very similar interplanetary conditions and only two flare sites and CME genesis regions. They are therefore major targets for further in-depth observational studies, and for testing both existing and new theories and models. We present the complete suite of relevant observations, complement them with initial modeling results for the SEPs and interplanetary magnetic connectivity, and develop a plausible scenario for the eruptions. Perhaps controversially, the SEPs appear to be reasonably modelled and evidence points to significant non-Parker magnetic fields. Based on the very limited modeling available, we identify the aspects that are and are not understood, and we discuss ideas that may lead to improved understanding of the SEP, radio, and space-weather events.
  • Davies, Emma E.; Forsyth, Robert J.; Good, Simon W.; Kilpua, Emilia K. J. (2020)
    We present observations of the same magnetic cloud made near Earth by the Advance Composition Explorer (ACE), Wind, and the Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon's Interaction with the Sun (ARTEMIS) mission comprising the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) B and THEMIS C spacecraft, and later by Juno at a distance of 1.2 AU. The spacecraft were close to radial alignment throughout the event, with a longitudinal separation of 3.6 degrees between Juno and the spacecraft near Earth. The magnetic cloud likely originated from a filament eruption on 22 October 2011 at 00:05 UT, and caused a strong geomagnetic storm at Earth commencing on 24 October. Observations of the magnetic cloud at each spacecraft have been analysed using minimum variance analysis and two flux rope fitting models, Lundquist and Gold-Hoyle, to give the orientation of the flux rope axis. We explore the effect different trailing edge boundaries have on the results of each analysis method, and find a clear difference between the orientations of the flux rope axis at the near-Earth spacecraft and Juno, independent of the analysis method. The axial magnetic field strength and the radial width of the flux rope are calculated using both observations and fitting parameters and their relationship with heliocentric distance is investigated. Differences in results between the near-Earth spacecraft and Juno are attributed not only to the radial separation, but to the small longitudinal separation which resulted in a surprisingly large difference in the in situ observations between the spacecraft. This case study demonstrates the utility of Juno cruise data as a new opportunity to study magnetic clouds beyond 1 AU, and the need for caution in future radial alignment studies.
  • Manchester, Ward; Kilpua, Emilia Katja Johanna; Liu, Ying D.; Lugaz, Noe; Riley, Pete; Torok, Tibor; Vrsnak, Bojan (2017)
    As observed in Thomson-scattered white light, coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are manifest as large-scale expulsions of plasma magnetically driven from the corona in the most energetic eruptions from the Sun. It remains a tantalizing mystery as to how these erupting magnetic fields evolve to form the complex structures we observe in the solar wind at Earth. Here, we strive to provide a fresh perspective on the post-eruption and interplanetary evolution of CMEs, focusing on the physical processes that define the many complex interactions of the ejected plasma with its surroundings as it departs the corona and propagates through the heliosphere. We summarize the ways CMEs and their interplanetary CMEs (ICMEs) are rotated, reconfigured, deformed, deflected, decelerated and disguised during their journey through the solar wind. This study then leads to consideration of how structures originating in coronal eruptions can be connected to their far removed interplanetary counterparts. Given that ICMEs are the drivers of most geomagnetic storms (and the sole driver of extreme storms), this work provides a guide to the processes that must be considered in making space weather forecasts from remote observations of the corona.
  • Nitta, Nariaki; Mulligan, Tamitha; Kilpua, Emilia K. J.; Lynch, Benjamin J.; Mierla, Marilena; O'Kane, Jennifer; Pagano, Paolo; Palmerio, Erika; Pomoell, Jens; Richardson, Ian R.; Rodriguez, Luciano; Rouillard, Alexis P.; Sinha, Suvadip; Srivastava, Nandita; Talpeanu, Dana-Camelia; Yardley, Stephanie L.; Zhukov, Andrei N. (2021)
    Geomagnetic storms are an important aspect of space weather and can result in significant impacts on space- and ground-based assets. The majority of strong storms are associated with the passage of interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) in the near-Earth environment. In many cases, these ICMEs can be traced back unambiguously to a specific coronal mass ejection (CME) and solar activity on the frontside of the Sun. Hence, predicting the arrival of ICMEs at Earth from routine observations of CMEs and solar activity currently makes a major contribution to the forecasting of geomagnetic storms. However, it is clear that some ICMEs, which may also cause enhanced geomagnetic activity, cannot be traced back to an observed CME, or, if the CME is identified, its origin may be elusive or ambiguous in coronal images. Such CMEs have been termed "stealth CMEs". In this review, we focus on these "problem" geomagnetic storms in the sense that the solar/CME precursors are enigmatic and stealthy. We start by reviewing evidence for stealth CMEs discussed in past studies. We then identify several moderate to strong geomagnetic storms (minimum Dst < -50 nT) in solar cycle 24 for which the related solar sources and/or CMEs are unclear and apparently stealthy. We discuss the solar and in situ circumstances of these events and identify several scenarios that may account for their elusive solar signatures. These range from observational limitations (e.g., a coronagraph near Earth may not detect an incoming CME if it is diffuse and not wide enough) to the possibility that there is a class of mass ejections from the Sun that have only weak or hard-to-observe coronal signatures. In particular, some of these sources are only clearly revealed by considering the evolution of coronal structures over longer time intervals than is usually considered. We also review a variety of numerical modelling approaches that attempt to advance our understanding of the origins and consequences of stealthy solar eruptions with geoeffective potential. Specifically, we discuss magnetofrictional modelling of the energisation of stealth CME source regions and magnetohydrodynamic modelling of the physical processes that generate stealth CME or CME-like eruptions, typically from higher altitudes in the solar corona than CMEs from active regions or extended filament channels.