Catastrophe versus instability for the eruption of a toroidal solar magnetic flux rope

B. Kliem*, J. Lin, T. G. Forbes, E. R. Priest, T. Toeroek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


The onset of a solar eruption is formulated here as either a magnetic catastrophe or as an instability. Both start with the same equation of force balance governing the underlying equilibria. Using a toroidal flux rope in an external bipolar or quadrupolar field as a model for the current-carrying flux, we demonstrate the occurrence of a fold catastrophe by loss of equilibrium for several representative evolutionary sequences in the stable domain of parameter space. We verify that this catastrophe and the torus instability occur at the same point; they are thus equivalent descriptions for the onset condition of solar eruptions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date13 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014


  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
  • Sun: filaments, prominences
  • Sun: flares
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Coronal mass ejections
  • 2010 April 8
  • Active regions
  • Prominence eruptions
  • Torus instability
  • Kink instability
  • Sunspot rotation
  • Field evolution
  • Emerging flux
  • Flares


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