EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 433, Number 2, April II 2005
Page(s) 683 - 690
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041807

A&A 433, 683-690 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20041807

Observational evidence of the primary role played by photospheric motions in magnetic helicity transport before a filament eruption

P. Romano1, L. Contarino2 and F. Zuccarello1

1  Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - Sezione Astrofisica, Università di Catania, via S. Sofia 78, 95125 Catania, Italy
    e-mail: prom@ct.astro.it
2  INAF - Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, via S. Sofia 78, 95125 Catania, Italy

(Received 6 August 2004 / Accepted 20 November 2004)

Many filament eruptions can be suitably described in the framework of the kink instability model, although it is not always easy to discriminate whether the helical flux rope writhes due to new emerging flux or to photospheric horizontal motions. In this paper we provide observational evidence of the important role which can be played by horizontal motions in filament instability and eruption. More precisely, we describe the analysis of the eruption of a reverse-S-shaped filament associated with a flare of class M6.3, that occurred on 15 June, 2001 in the active region NOAA 9502. Using TRACE 195 Å images we studied the morphological evolution of the EUV filament channel. Using 1 minute cadence MDI full-disc longitudinal magnetograms we analyzed the magnetic evolution of the entire active region. The geometrical parameters of the EUV filament channel and the horizontal velocities in the areas corresponding to the filament footpoints were determined and agreed with the kink instability. Moreover, the analysis of MDI magnetograms showed that a sudden and strong increase in the magnetic helicity transport rate to the corona preceded and accompanied the filament eruption. During the same time interval, on the one hand the emergence of magnetic flux in both polarities became negligible, but on the other hand the velocity pattern at the filament ends showed horizontal, counterclockwise motions, which could make a significant contribution to the transformation, from twist to writhe, of the magnetic helicity accumulated along the filament before its eruption. This result seems to indicate that in this event the transport of magnetic helicity exceeding the limit for the kink instability is primarily due to photospheric motions, while the contribution from the emerging flux is negligible.

Key words: Sun: activity -- Sun: magnetic fields -- Sun: filaments

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