Volume 526, February 2011
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Published online||10 December 2010|
Photospheric flux cancellation and associated flux rope formation and eruption
University College London, Mullard Space Science Laboratory,
Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking,
2 University of Potsdam, Institute of Physics and Astronomy, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
3 Naval Research Laboratory, Space Science Division, Washington, DC 20375, USA
Received: 3 June 2010
Accepted: 18 October 2010
Aims. We study an evolving bipolar active region that exhibits flux cancellation at the internal polarity inversion line, the formation of a soft X-ray sigmoid along the inversion line and a coronal mass ejection. The aim is to investigate the quantity of flux cancellation that is involved in flux rope formation in the time period leading up to the eruption.
Methods. The active region is studied using its extreme ultraviolet and soft X-ray emissions as it evolves from a sheared arcade to flux rope configuration. The evolution of the photospheric magnetic field is described and used to estimate how much flux is reconnected into the flux rope.
Results. About one third of the active region flux cancels at the internal polarity inversion line in the 2.5 days leading up to the eruption. In this period, the coronal structure evolves from a weakly to a highly sheared arcade and then to a sigmoid that crosses the inversion line in the inverse direction. These properties suggest that a flux rope has formed prior to the eruption. The amount of cancellation implies that up to 60% of the active region flux could be in the body of the flux rope. We point out that only part of the cancellation contributes to the flux in the rope if the arcade is only weakly sheared, as in the first part of the evolution. This reduces the estimated flux in the rope to ~30% or less of the active region flux. We suggest that the remaining discrepancy between our estimate and the limiting value of ~10% of the active region flux, obtained previously by the flux rope insertion method, results from the incomplete coherence of the flux rope, due to nonuniform cancellation along the polarity inversion line. A hot linear feature is observed in the active region which rises as part of the eruption and then likely traces out the field lines close to the axis of the flux rope. The flux cancellation and changing magnetic connections at one end of this feature suggest that the flux rope reaches coherence by reconnection immediately before and early in the impulsive phase of the associated flare. The sigmoid is destroyed in the eruption but reforms quickly, with the amount of cancellation involved being much smaller than in the course of its original formation.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs) / magnetic fields / magnetic reconnection / Sun: photosphere / Sun: magnetic topology
© ESO, 2010
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