The eruption of a prominence and coronal mass ejection which drive reconnection

C. D.C. Steele*, E. R. Priest

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Two possible limiting scenarios are proposed for the production of a coronal mass ejection. In the first the magnetic field around a prominence evolves until it loses equilibrium and erupts, which drives reconnection below the prominence and an eruption of the overlying magnetic arcade. In the second a large-scale magnetic arcade evolves until it loses equilibrium and erupts, thereby causing a prominence to erupt. In general it is likely to be the non-equilibrium of the coupled system which creates the eruption. Furthermore, large quiescent prominences are expected to be centred within the magnetic bubble of a coronal mass ejection whereas when active-region prominences erupt they are likely to be located initially to one side of the bubble. A model is set up for the eruption of a magnetically coupled prominence and coronal mass ejection. This represents a development of the Anzer and Pneuman (1982) model by overcoming two limitations of it, namely that: it is not globally stable initially and so one wonders how it can be set up in a stable way before the eruption; it has reconnection driving the CME whereas recent observations suggest that the reverse may be happening. In our model we assume that magnetic reconnection below the prominence is driven by the eruption and the driver is magnetic non-equilibrium in the coupled prominence-mass ejection system. The prominence is modelled as a twisted flux tube and the mass ejection as an overlying void and magnetic bubble. Two different models of the prominence are considered. In one a globally stable equilibrium becomes unstable when a threshold magnetic flux below the prominence is exceeded and, in the other, equilibrium ceases to exist. In both cases, the prominence and mass-ejection accelerate upwards before reaching constant velocities in a manner that is consistent with observations. It is found that the greater the reconnection that is driven by the eruption, the higher is the final speed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-195
Number of pages39
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1989


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