Decoding the pre-eruptive magnetic field configurations of coronal mass ejections

S. Patsourakos, A. Vourlidas, T. Török, B. Kliem, S. K. Antiochos, V. Archontis, G. Aulanier, X. Cheng, G. Chintzoglou, M. K. Georgoulis, L. M. Green, J. E. Leake, R. Moore, A. Nindos, P. Syntelis, S. L. Yardley, V. Yurchyshyn, J. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


A clear understanding of the nature of the pre-eruptive magnetic field configurations of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) is required for understanding and eventually predicting solar eruptions. Only two, but seemingly disparate, magnetic configurations are considered viable; namely, sheared magnetic arcades (SMA) and magnetic flux ropes (MFR). They can form via three physical mechanisms (flux emergence, flux cancellation, helicity condensation). Whether the CME culprit is an SMA or an MFR, however, has been strongly debated for thirty years. We formed an International Space Science Institute (ISSI) team to address and resolve this issue and report the outcome here. We review the status of the field across modeling and observations, identify the open and closed issues, compile lists of SMA and MFR observables to be tested against observations and outline research activities to close the gaps in our current understanding. We propose that the combination of multi-viewpoint multi-thermal coronal observations and multi-height vector magnetic field measurements is the optimal approach for resolving the issue conclusively. We demonstrate the approach using MHD simulations and synthetic coronal images.
Original languageEnglish
Article number131
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2020


  • Plasmas
  • Sun: activity
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Sun: Coronal Mass Ejections
  • Sun: space weather


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