Nonequilibrium Flux Rope Formation by Confined Flares Preceding a Solar Coronal Mass Ejection

Bernhard Kliem, Jeongwoo Lee, Rui Liu, Stephen M. White, Chang Liu, Satoshi Masuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We present evidence that a magnetic flux rope was formed before a coronal mass ejection (CME) and its associated long-duration flare during a pair of preceding confined eruptions and associated impulsive flares in a compound event in NOAA Active Region 12371. Extreme-ultraviolet images and the extrapolated nonlinear force-free field show that the first two (impulsive) flares, SOL2015-06-21T01:42, result from the confined eruption of highly sheared low-lying flux, presumably a seed flux rope. The eruption spawns a vertical current sheet, where magnetic reconnection creates flare ribbons and loops, a nonthermal microwave source, and a sigmoidal hot channel that can only be interpreted as a magnetic flux rope. Until the subsequent long-duration flare, SOL2015-06-21T02:36, the sigmoid's elbows expand, while its center remains stationary, suggesting nonequilibrium but not yet instability. The "flare reconnection"during the confined eruptions acts like "tether-cutting reconnection"whose flux feeding of the rope leads to instability. The subsequent full eruption is seen as an accelerated rise of the entire hot channel, seamlessly evolving into the fast halo CME. Both the confined and ejective eruptions are consistent with the onset of the torus instability in the dipped decay index profile that results from the region's two-scale magnetic structure. We suggest that the formation or enhancement of a nonequilibrium but stable flux rope by confined eruptions is a generic process occurring prior to many CMEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 9 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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