Determining the source and eruption dynamics of a stealth CME using NLFFF modelling and MHD simulations

Stephanie Louise Yardley, Paolo Pagano, Duncan Hendry Mackay, Lisa Upton

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Context. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that exhibit weak or no eruption signatures in the low corona, known as stealth CMEs, are problematic as upon arrival at Earth they can lead to geomagnetic disturbances that were not predicted by space weather forecasters.

Aims. We investigate the origin and eruption of a stealth event that occurred on 2015 January 3 that was responsible for a strong geomagnetic storm upon its arrival at Earth.

Methods. To simulate the coronal magnetic field and plasma parameters of the eruption we use a coupled approach. This approach combines an evolutionary nonlinear force-free field model of the global corona with a MHD simulation.
Results. The combined simulation approach accurately reproduces the stealth event and suggests that sympathetic eruptions occur. In the combined simulation we found that three flux ropes form and then erupt. The first two flux ropes, which are connected to a large AR complex behind the east limb, erupt first producing two near-simultaneous CMEs. These CMEs are closely followed by a third, weaker flux rope eruption in the simulation that originated between the periphery of AR 12252 and the southern polar coronal hole. The third eruption coincides with a faint coronal dimming, which appears in the SDO/AIA 211 Å observations, that is attributed as the source responsible for the stealth event and later the geomagnetic disturbance at 1 AU. The incorrect interpretation of the stealth event being linked to the occurrence of a single partial halo CME observed by LASCO/C2 is mainly due to the lack of STEREO observations being available at the time of the CMEs. The simulation also shows that the LASCO CME is not a single event but rather two near-simultaneous CMEs.

Conclusions. These results show the significance of the coupled data-driven simulation approach in interpreting the eruption and that an operational L5 mission is crucial for space weather forecasting
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA160
Number of pages15
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date27 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2021


  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Methods: data analysis


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