EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 506, Number 2, November I 2009
Page(s) 895 - 900
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912425
Published online 27 August 2009
A&A 506, 895-900 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912425

Magnetic helicity and active filament configuration

P. Romano1, F. Zuccarello2, S. Poedts3, A. Soenen3, and F. P. Zuccarello2, 3

1  INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, via S. Sofia 78, 95123 Catania, Italy
    e-mail: prom@oact.inaf.it
2  Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - Sezione Astrofisica, Università di Catania, via S. Sofia 78, 95123 Catania, Italy
3  Centre for Plasma Astrophysics, K. U. Leuven Celestijnenlaan 200 B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium

Received 5 May 2009 / Accepted 14 August 2009

Context. The role of magnetic helicity in active filament formation and destabilization is still under debate.
Aims. Although active filaments usually show a sigmoid shape and a twisted configuration before and during their eruption, it is unclear which mechanism leads to these topologies. In order to provide an observational contribution to clarify these issues, we describe a filament evolution whose characteristics seem to be directly linked to the magnetic helicity transport in corona.
Methods. We applied different methods to determine the helicity sign and the chirality of the filament magnetic field. We also computed the magnetic helicity transport rate at the filament footpoints.
Results. All the observational signatures provided information on the positive helicity and sinistral chirality of the flux rope containing the filament material: its forward S shape, the orientation of its barbs, the bright and dark threads at 195 Å. Moreover, the magnetic helicity transport rate at the filament footpoints showed a clear accumulation of positive helicity.
Conclusions. The study of this event showed a correspondence between several signatures of the sinistral chirality of the filament and several evidences of the positive magnetic helicity of the filament magnetic field. We also found that the magnetic helicity transported along the filament footpoints showed an increase just before the change of the filament shape observed in H$\alpha$ images. We argued that the photospheric regions where the filament was rooted might be the preferential ways where the magnetic helicity was injected along the filament itself and where the conditions to trigger the eruption were yielded.

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

© ESO 2009