EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 400, Number 3, March IV 2003
Page(s) 1071 - 1083
Section Diffuse matter in space
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030088

A&A 400, 1071-1083 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030088

Coronal dimming and the coronal mass ejection onset

R. A. Harrison1, P. Bryans1, 2, G. M. Simnett3 and M. Lyons3

1  Space Science and Technology Dept., Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0QX, UK
2  Department of Physics and Applied Physics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
3  School of Physics and Space Research, Birmingham University, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

(Received 1 July 2002 / Accepted 21 January 2003 )

A set of five observations of extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) coronal dimming associated with coronal mass ejection (CME) activity is examined. Using spectroscopic data, plasma characteristics across a broad range of temperatures from 20 000 K to 2 million K are determined. The dimming events are found to coincide in time, and to coincide spatially, with the projected onset times and locations of the associated CMEs. The spectral data confirm that the dimming is due to mass-loss, and not temperature variations. The actual mass-loss calculated from the degree of dimming, using two different methods, shows that the extracted mass in each case, is of the same order as the mass of the associated CME. In some cases, the EUV observations are limited to relatively small regions under the CME events and it is expected that we do not witness the mass-loss associated with the entire event, for these. However, we believe that this analysis has provided a method for locating the source region of the trigger for a CME eruption, and that the dimming characteristics can be used to distinguish between onset processes of the CME. In particular, the gradual nature of the dimming process, which takes place over several hours, suggests that either the CME has a continuous driver rather than a sudden impulsive onset, or the low coronal response to a CME extends over a long period.

Key words: Sun: activity -- Sun: atmosphere -- Sun: UV radiation -- Sun: coronal mass ejection (CMEs)

Offprint request: R. A. Harrison, r.harrison@rl.ac.uk

© ESO 2003