Modelling the initiation of coronal mass ejections: magnetic flux emergence versus shearing motions
Centre for Plasma-Astrophysics, K. U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium e-mail: Francesco.Zuccarello@wis.kuleuven.be
2 Leuven Mathematical Modelling & Computational Science Research Centre (LMCC), Belgium
3 Center for Space Environment Modeling, University of Michigan, 2455 Hayward Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
4 Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia – Universitá di Catania via S.Sofia 78, 95123 Catania, Italy
Accepted: 14 July 2009
Context. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are enormous expulsions of magnetic flux and plasma from the solar corona into the interplanetary space. These phenomena release a huge amount of energy. It is generally accepted that both photospheric motions and the emergence of new magnetic flux from below the photosphere can put stress on the system and eventually cause a loss of equilibrium resulting in an eruption.
Aims. By means of numerical simulations we investigate both emergence of magnetic flux and shearing motions along the magnetic inversion line as possible driver mechanisms for CMEs. The pre-eruptive region consists of three arcades with alternating magnetic flux polarity, favouring the breakout mechanism.
Methods. The equations of ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) were advanced in time by using a finite volume approach and solved in spherical geometry. The simulation domain covers a meridional plane and reaches from the lower solar corona up to 30 . When we applied time-dependent boundary conditions at the inner boundary, the central arcade of the multiflux system expands, leading to the eventual eruption of the top of the helmet streamer. We compare the topological and dynamical evolution of the system when driven by the different boundary conditions. The available free magnetic energy and the possible role of magnetic helicity in the onset of the CME are investigated.
Results. In our simulation setup, both driving mechanisms result in a slow CME. Independent of the driving mechanism, the overall evolution of the system is the same: the actual CME is the detatched helmet streamer. However, the evolution of the central arcade is different in the two cases. The central arcade eventually becomes a flux rope in the shearing case, whereas in the flux emergence case there is no formation of a flux rope. Furthermore, we conclude that magnetic helicity is not crucial to a solar eruption.
Key words: Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs) / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / methods: numerical
© ESO, 2009