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Stereoscopic Observation of Slipping Reconnection in A Double Candle-Flame-Shaped Solar Flare  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2016-04-05 19:05

The 2011 January 28 M1.4 flare exhibits two side-by-side candle-flame-shaped flare loop systems underneath a larger cusp-shaped structure during the decay phase, as observed at the northwestern solar limb by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The northern loop system brightens following the initiation of the flare within the southern loop system, but all three cusp-shaped structures are characterized by ~ 10 MK temperatures, hotter than the arch-shaped loops underneath. The "Ahead" satellite of the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) provides a top view, in which the post-flare loops brighten sequentially, with one end fixed while the other apparently slipping eastward. By performing stereoscopic reconstruction of the post-flare loops in EUV and mapping out magnetic connectivities, we found that the footpoints of the post-flare loops are slipping along the footprint of a hyperbolic flux tube (HFT) separating the two loop systems, and that the reconstructed loops share similarity with the magnetic field lines that are traced starting from the same HFT footprint, where the field lines are relatively flexible. These results argue strongly in favor of slipping magnetic reconnection at the HFT. The slipping reconnection was likely triggered by the flare and manifested as propagative dimmings before the loop slippage is observed. It may contribute to the late-phase peak in Fe XVI 33.5 nm, which is even higher than its main-phase counterpart, and may also play a role in the density and temperature asymmetry observed in the northern loop system through heat conduction.

Authors: Tingyu Gou, Rui Liu, Yuming Wang, Kai Liu, Bin Zhuang, Jun Chen,Quanhao Zhang, and Jiajia Liu
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in ApJ Letters
Last Modified: 2016-04-06 08:20
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Early Evolution of an Energetic Coronal Mass Ejection and Its Relation to EUV Waves  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2014-10-07 19:14

We study a coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with an X-class flare, whose initiation is clearly observed in low corona with high-cadence, high-resolution EUV images, providing us a rare opportunity to witness the early evolution of an energetic CME in detail. The eruption starts with a slow expansion of cool overlying loops (~1 MK) following a jet-like event in the periphery of the active region. Underneath the expanding loop system a reverse S-shaped dimming is seen immediately above the brightening active region in hot EUV passbands. The dimming is associated with a rising diffuse arch (~6 MK), which we interpret as a preexistent, high-lying flux rope. This is followed by the arising of a double hot channel (~10 MK) from the core of the active region. The higher structures rise earlier and faster than lower ones, with the leading front undergoing extremely rapid acceleration up to 35 km s2. This suggests that the torus instability is the major eruption mechanism and that it is the high-lying flux rope rather than the hot channels that drives the eruption. The compression of coronal plasmas skirting and overlying the expanding loop system, whose aspect ratio h/r increases with time as a result of the rapid upward acceleration, plays a significant role in driving an outward-propagating global EUV wave and a sunward-propagating local EUV wave, respectively.

Authors: Rui Liu, Yuming Wang, and Chenglong Shen
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in ApJ
Last Modified: 2014-10-08 10:10
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A Prominence Eruption Driven by Flux Feeding from Chromospheric Fibrils  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2014-05-27 02:52

We present multi-wavelength observations of a prominence eruption originating from a quadrupolar field configuration, in which the prominence was embedded in a side-arcade. Within the two-day period prior to its eruption on 2012 October 22, the prominence was perturbed three times by chromospheric fibrils underneath, which rose upward, became brightened, and merged into the prominence, resulting in horizontal flows along the prominence axis, suggesting that the fluxes carried by the fibrils were incorporated into the magnetic field of the prominence. These perturbations caused the prominence to oscillate and to rise faster than before. The absence of intense heating within the first two hours after the onset of the prominence eruption, which followed an exponential increase in height, indicates that ideal instability played a crucial role. The eruption involved interactions with the other side-arcade, leading up to a twin coronal mass ejection, which was accompanied by transient surface brightenings in the central arcade, followed by transient dimmings and brightenings in the two side-arcades. We suggest that flux feeding from chromospheric fibrils might be an important mechanism to trigger coronal eruptions.

Authors: Quanhao Zhang, Rui Liu, Yuming Wang, Chenglong Shen, Kai Liu, Jiajia Liu, and S. Wang
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in ApJ
Last Modified: 2014-05-28 10:15
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An Unorthodox X-Class Long-Duration Confined Flare  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2014-05-26 22:28

We report the observation of an X-class long-duration flare which is clearly confined. It appears as a compact-loop flare in the traditional EUV passbands (171 and 195 Å), but in the passbands sensitive to flare plasmas (94 and 131 Å), it exhibits a cusp-shaped structure above an arcade of loops like other long-duration events. Inspecting images in a running difference approach, we find that the seemingly diffuse, quasi-static cusp-shaped structure consists of multiple nested loops that repeatedly rise upward and disappear approaching the cusp edge. Over the gradual phase, we detect numerous episodes of loop rising, each lasting minutes. A differential emission measure analysis reveals that the temperature is highest at the top of the arcade and becomes cooler at higher altitudes within the cusp-shaped structure, contrary to typical long-duration flares. With a nonlinear force-free model, our analysis shows that the event mainly involves two adjacent sheared arcades separated by a T-type hyperbolic flux tube (HFT). One of the arcades harbors a magnetic flux rope, which is identified with a filament that survives the flare owing to the strong confining field. We conclude that a new emergence of magnetic flux in the other arcade triggers the flare, while the preexisting HFT and flux rope dictate the structure and dynamics of the flare loops and ribbons during the long-lasting decay phase, and that a quasi-separatrix layer high above the HFT could account for the cusp-shaped structure.

Authors: Rui Liu, Viacheslav S. Titov, Tingyu Gou, Yuming Wang, Kai Liu, Haimin Wang
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in ApJ
Last Modified: 2014-05-28 10:15
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Observation of A Moreton Wave and Wave-Filament Interactions Associated with the Renowned X9 Flare on 1990 May 24  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2013-06-28 01:53

Using BBSO film data recently digitized at NJIT, we investigate a Moreton wave associated with an X9 flare on 1990 May 24, as well as its interactions with four filaments F1-F4 located close to the flaring region. The interaction yields interesting insight into physical properties of both the wave and the filaments. The first clear Moreton wavefront appears at the flaring-region periphery at approximately the same time as the peak of a microwave burst and the first of two gamma-ray peaks. The wavefront propagates at different speeds ranging from 1500 -2600 km s-1 in different directions, reaching as far as 600 Mm away from the flaring site. Sequential chromospheric brightenings are observed ahead of the Moreton wavefront. A slower diffuse front at 300-600 km s-1 is observed to trail the fast Moreton wavefront about 1 min after the onset. The Moreton wave decelerates to ~550 km s-1 as it sweeps through F1. The wave passage results in F1's oscillation which is featured by ~1 mHz signals with coherent Fourier phases over the filament, the activation of F3 and F4 followed by gradual recovery, but no disturbance in F2. Different height and magnetic environment together may account for the distinct responses of the filaments to the wave passage. The wavefront bulges at F4 whose spine is oriented perpendicular to the upcoming wavefront. The deformation of the wavefront is suggested to be due to both the forward inclination of the wavefront and the enhancement of the local Alfvén speed within the filament channel.

Authors: Rui Liu, Chang Liu, Yan Xu, Wei Liu, Bernhard Kliem, Haimin Wang
Projects: None

Publication Status: accepted for publication in ApJ
Last Modified: 2013-06-28 10:15
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Dynamical Processes At the Vertical Current Sheet Behind an Erupting Flux Rope  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2013-06-13 00:01

We report in this paper a solar eruptive event, in which a vertical current sheet (VCS) is observed in the wake of an erupting flux rope in the SDO/AIA 131~{AA} passband. The VCS is first detected following the impulsive acceleration of the erupting flux rope but prior to the onset of a nonthermal HXR/microwave burst, with plasma blobs moving upward at speeds up to 1400 km s-1 along the sheet. The timing suggests that the VCS with plasma blobs might not be the primary accelerator for nonthermal electrons emitting HXRs/microwaves. The initial, slow acceleration of the erupting structure is associated with the slow elevation of a thermal looptop HXR source and the subsequent, impulsive acceleration is associated with the downward motion of the looptop source. We find that the plasma blobs moving downward within the VCS into the cusp region and the flare loops retracting from the cusp region make a continuous process, with the former apparently initiating the latter, which provides a 3D perspective on reconnections at the VCS. We also identify a dark void moving within the VCS toward the flare arcade, which suggests that dark voids in supra-arcade downflows are of the same origin as plasma blobs within the VCS.

Authors: Rui Liu
Projects: None

Publication Status: accepted for publication in MNRAS
Last Modified: 2013-06-13 00:01
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Contracting and Erupting Components of Sigmoidal Active Regions  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2012-08-02 19:36

It is recently noted that solar eruptions can be associated with the contraction of coronal loops that are not involved in magnetic reconnection processes. In this paper, we investigate five coronal eruptions originating from four sigmoidal active regions, using high-cadence, high-resolution narrowband EUV images obtained by the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO}). The magnitudes of the flares associated with the eruptions range from the GOES-class B to X. Owing to the high-sensitivity and broad temperature coverage of the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) onboard SDO, we are able to identify both the contracting and erupting components of the eruptions: the former is observed in cold AIA channels as the contracting coronal loops overlying the elbows of the sigmoid, and the latter is preferentially observed in warm/hot AIA channels as an expanding bubble originating from the center of the sigmoid. The initiation of eruption always precedes the contraction, and in the energetically mild events (B and C flares), it also precedes the increase in GOES soft X-ray fluxes. In the more energetic events, the eruption is simultaneous with the impulsive phase of the nonthermal hard X-ray emission. These observations confirm the loop contraction as an integrated process in eruptions with partially opened arcades. The consequence of contraction is a new equilibrium with reduced magnetic energy, as the contracting loops never regain their original positions. The contracting process is a direct consequence of flare energy release, as evidenced by the strong correlation of the maximal contracting speed, and strong anti-correlation of the time delay of contraction relative to expansion, with the peak soft X-ray flux. This is also implied by the relationship between contraction and expansion, i.e., their timing and speed.

Authors: Rui Liu, Chang Liu, Tibor Török, Yuming Wang, Haimin Wang
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in ApJ
Last Modified: 2012-08-07 09:16
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Slow Rise and Partial Eruption of a Double-Decker Filament. I Observations and Interpretation  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2012-07-06 19:54

We study an active-region dextral filament which was composed of two branches separated in height by about 13 Mm, as inferred from three-dimensional reconstruction by combining SDO and STEREO-B observations. This ``double-decker'' configuration sustained for days before the upper branch erupted with a GOES-class M1.0 flare on 2010 August 7. Analyzing this evolution, we obtain the following main results. 1) During hours before the eruption, filament threads within the lower branch were observed to intermittently brighten up, lift upward, and then merge with the upper branch. The merging process contributed magnetic flux and current to the upper branch, resulting in its quasi-static ascent. 2) This transfer might serve as the key mechanism for the upper branch to lose equilibrium by reaching the limiting flux that can be stably held down by the overlying field or by reaching the threshold of the torus instability. 3) The erupting branch first straightened from a reverse S shape that followed the polarity inversion line and then writhed into a forward S shape. This shows a transfer of left-handed helicity in a sequence of writhe-twist-writhe. The fact that the initial writhe is converted into the twist of the flux rope excludes the helical kink instability as the trigger process of the eruption, but supports the occurrence of the instability in the main phase, which is indeed indicated by the very strong writhing motion. 4) A hard X-ray sigmoid, likely of coronal origin, formed in the gap between the two original filament branches in the impulsive phase of the associated flare. This supports a model of transient sigmoids forming in the vertical flare current sheet. 5) Left-handed magnetic helicity is inferred for both branches of the dextral filament.6) Two types of force-free magnetic configurations are compatible with the data, a double flux rope equilibrium and a single flux rope situated above a loop arcade.

Authors: Rui Liu, Bernhard Kliem, Tibor Torok, Chang Liu, Viacheslav S. Titov, Roberto Lionello, Jon A. Linker, and Haimin Wang
Projects:

Publication Status: accepted for publication in ApJ
Last Modified: 2012-07-08 21:45
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Sigmoid-to-Flux-Rope Transition Leading to A Loop-Like Coronal Mass Ejection  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2010-11-05 08:30

Sigmoids are one of the most important precursor structures for solar eruptions. In this Letter, we study a sigmoid eruption on 2010 August 1 with EUV data obtained by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on board the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO). In AIA 94 Å (Fe XVIII; 6 MK), topological reconfiguration due to tether-cutting reconnection is unambiguously observed for the first time, i.e., two opposite J-shaped loops reconnect to form a continuous S-shaped loop, whose central portion is dipped and aligned along the magnetic polarity inversion line (PIL), and a compact loop crossing the PIL. A causal relationship between photospheric flows and coronal tether-cutting reconnections is evidenced by the detection of persistent converging flows toward the PIL using line-of-sight magnetograms obtained by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) on board SDO. The S-shaped loop remains in quasi-equilibrium in the lower corona for about 50 minutes, with the central dipped portion rising slowly at ~10 km s-1. The speed then increases to ~60 km s-1 about 10 minutes prior to the onset of a GOES-class C3.2 flare, as the S-shaped loop speeds up its transformation into an arch-shaped loop, which eventually leads to a loop-like coronal mass ejection (CME). The AIA observations combined with Hα filtergrams as well as hard X-ray (HXR) imaging and spectroscopy are consistent with most flare loops being formed by reconnection of the stretched legs of less-sheared J-shaped loops that envelopes the rising flux rope, in agreement with the standard tether-cutting scenario.

Authors: Rui Liu, Chang Liu, Shuo Wang, Na Deng, Haimin Wang
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in ApJL
Last Modified: 2010-11-08 07:34
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A Reconnecting Current Sheet Imaged in A Solar Flare  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2010-09-27 08:25

Magnetic reconnection changes the magnetic field topology and powers explosive events in astrophysical, space and laboratory plasmas. For flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the solar atmosphere, the standard model predicts the presence of a reconnecting current sheet, which has been the subject of considerable theoretical and numerical modeling over the last fifty years, yet direct, unambiguous observational verification has been absent. In this Letter we show a bright sheet structure of global length (>0.25 Rsun) and macroscopic width ((5 - 10)x103 km) distinctly above the cusp-shaped flaring loop, imaged during the flare rising phase in EUV. The sheet formed due to the stretch of a transequatorial loop system, and was accompanied by various reconnection signatures that have been dispersed in the literature. This unique event provides a comprehensive view of the reconnection geometry and dynamics in the solar corona.

Authors: Rui Liu, Jeongwoo Lee, Tongjiang Wang, Guillermo Stenborg, Chang Liu, Haimin Wang
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in ApJL on September 24, 2010
Last Modified: 2010-09-27 13:12
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Fast Contraction of Coronal Loops at the Flare Peak  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2010-03-26 07:43

On 2005 September 8, a coronal loop overlying the active region NOAA 10808 was observed in TRACE 171A to contract at ~100 km s-1 at the peak of an X5.4?2B flare at 21:05 UT. Prior to the fast contraction, the loop underwent a much slower contraction at ~6 km s-1 for about 8 minutes, initiating during the flare preheating phase. The sudden switch to fast contraction is presumably corresponding to the onset of the impulsive phase. The contraction resulted in the oscillation of a group of loops located below, with the period of about 10 min. Meanwhile, the contracting loop exhibited a similar oscillatory pattern superimposed on the dominant downward motion. We suggest that the fast contraction reflects a suddenly reduced magnetic pressure underneath due either to 1) the eruption of magnetic structures located at lower altitudes, or to 2) the rapid conversion of magnetic free energy in the flare core region. Electrons accelerated in the shrinking trap formed by the contracting loop can theoretically contribute to a late-phase hard X-ray burst, which is associated with Type IV radio emission. To complement the X5.4 flare which was probably confined, a similar event observed in SOHO/EIT 195A on 2004 July 20 in an eruptive, M8.6 flare is briefly described, in which the contraction was followed by the expansion of the same loop leading up to a halo CME. These observations further substantiate the conjecture of coronal implosion, and suggest coronal implosion as a new exciter mechanism for coronal loop oscillations.

Authors: Rui Liu and Haimin Wang
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in ApJ Letters
Last Modified: 2010-03-26 09:12
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Coronal Implosion and Particle Acceleration in the Wake of a Filament Eruption  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2009-08-10 19:37

We study the evolution of a group of TRACE 195 A coronal loops overlying a reverse S-shaped filament on 2001 June 15. These loops were initially pushed upward with the filament ascending and kinking slowly, but as soon as the filament rose explosively, they began to contract at a speed of ~100 km s-1, and sustained for at least 12 min, presumably due to the reduced magnetic pressure underneath with the filament escaping. Despite the contraction following the expansion, the loops of interest remained largely intact during the filament eruption, rather than formed via reconnection. These contracting loops naturally formed a shrinking trap, in which hot electrons of several keV, in an order of magnitude estimation, can be accelerated to nonthermal energies. A single hard X-ray burst, with no corresponding rise in GOES soft X-ray flux, was recorded by the Hard X-ray Telescope (HXT) on board Yohkoh, when the contracting loops expectedly approached the post-flare arcade originating from the filament eruption. HXT images reveal a coronal source distinctly above the top of the soft X-ray arcade by ~15''. The injecting electron population for the coronal source (thin target) is hardening by ~1.5 powers relative to the footpoint emission (thick target), which is consistent with electron trapping in the weak diffusion limit. Although we can not rule out additional reconnection, observational evidences suggest that the shrinking coronal trap may play a significant role in the observed nonthermal hard X-ray emission during the flare decay phase.

Authors: Rui Liu, & Haimin Wang
Projects: None

Publication Status: accepted to ApJL
Last Modified: 2009-08-11 07:27
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Hard X-ray Emission In Kinking Filaments  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2009-03-18 19:44

We present an observational study on the impact of the dynamic evolution of kinking filaments on the production of hard X-ray (HXR) emission. The investigation of two kinking-filament events in this paper, occurring on 2003 June 12 and 2004 November 10, respectively, combined with our earlier study on the failed filament eruption of 2002 May 27, suggests that two distinct processes take place during the kink evolution, leading to HXR emission with different morphological connections to the overall magnetic configuration. The first phase of the evolution (Phase I) is characterized by compact HXR footpoint sources at the endpoints of the filament, and the second phase (Phase II) by a ribbon-like footpoint emission extending along the endpoints of the filament. The HXR emission in both the 2002 May 27 and 2004 November 10 events shows a transition from Phase I to Phase II. In the 2002 May 27 event, coronal emission was observed to be associated with EUV brightening sheaths aligned along two filament legs in Phase I, while in Phase II, it was located near the projected crossing point of the kink. The coronal emission in the 2004 November 10 event does not exhibit a clear morphological transition as in the 2002 May 27 event, probably due to the filament?s relatively small size. The 2003 June 12 event mostly features a Phase I emission, with a compact footpoint emission located at one end of the filament, and an elongated coronal source oriented along the same filament leg. We propose the following scenarios to explain the different flare morphology: magnetic reconnection in Phase I occurs as a result of the interactions of the two writhing filament legs; reconnection in Phase II occurs at an X-type magnetic topology beneath the filament arch when the filament ascends and expands.

Authors: Rui Liu & David Alexander
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted to ApJ
Last Modified: 2009-03-19 10:39
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Implosion in a Coronal Eruption  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2009-02-02 12:03

We present the observations of the contraction of the EUV coronal loops overlying the flaring region during the pre-heating as well as the early impulsive phase of a GOES class C8.9 flare. During the relatively long, 6 min, pre-heating phase, hard X-ray count rates at lower energies (below 25 keV) as well as soft X-ray fluxes increase gradually and the flare emission is dominated by a thermal looptop source with the temperature of 20 - 30 MK. After the onset of impulsive hard X-ray bursts, the flare spectrum is composed of a thermal component of 17 - 20 MK, corresponding to the looptop emission, and a nonthermal component with the spectral index ~(3.5 - 4.5), corresponding to a pair of conjugate footpoints. The contraction of the overlying coronal loops is associated with the converging motion of the conjugate footpoints and the downward motion of the looptop source. The expansion of the coronal loops following the contraction is associated with the enhancement in Hα emission in the flaring region, and the heating of an eruptive filament whose northern end is located close to the flaring region. The expansion eventually leads to the eruption of the whole magnetic structure and a fast coronal mass ejection. It is the first time that such a large scale contraction of the coronal loops overlying the flaring region has been documented, which is sustained for about 10 min at an average speed of ~5 km s-1. Assuming that explosive chromospheric evaporation plays a significant role in compensating for the reduction of the magnetic pressure in the flaring region, we suggest that a prolonged pre-heating phase dominated by coronal thermal emission is a necessary condition for the observation of coronal implosion. The dense plasma accumulated in the corona during the pre-heating phase may effectively suppress explosive chromospheric evaporation, which explains the continuation of the observed implosion up to ~7 min into the impulsive phase.

Authors: Rui Liu, Haimin Wang, & David Alexander
Projects: None

Publication Status: submitted to ApJ
Last Modified: 2009-02-03 08:14
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Asymmetric Eruptive Filaments  

Rui Liu   Submitted: 2008-10-01 13:45

Filaments are often observed to erupt asymmetrically, during which one leg is fixed to the photosphere (referred to as the anchored leg) while the other undertakes most of the dynamic motions (referred to as the active leg) during the eruptive process. In this paper, we present observations of a group of asymmetric eruptive filaments, in which two types of eruptions are identified: whipping-like, where the active leg whips upward, and hard X-ray sources shift toward the end of the anchored leg; and zipping-like, where the visible end of the active leg moves along the neutral line like the unfastening of a zipper as the filament arch rises and expands. During a zipping-like eruption, hard X-ray sources shift away from where the eruption initiates toward where the visible end of the active leg eventually stops moving. Both types of asymmetric eruptions can be understood in terms of how the highly sheared filament channel field, traced by filament material, responds to an external asymmetric magnetic confinement, where force imbalance occurs in the neighborhood of the visible end of the active leg. The dynamic motions of the active leg have a distinct impact on how hard X-ray sources shift, as observed by RHESSI.

Authors: Rui Liu, David Alexander, and Holly R. Gilbert
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted to ApJ
Last Modified: 2008-10-02 09:26
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Abstracts by Author
Stereoscopic Observation of Slipping Reconnection in A Double Candle-Flame-Shaped Solar Flare
Early Evolution of an Energetic Coronal Mass Ejection and Its Relation to EUV Waves
A Prominence Eruption Driven by Flux Feeding from Chromospheric Fibrils
An Unorthodox X-Class Long-Duration Confined Flare
Observation of A Moreton Wave and Wave-Filament Interactions Associated with the Renowned X9 Flare on 1990 May 24
Dynamical Processes At the Vertical Current Sheet Behind an Erupting Flux Rope
Contracting and Erupting Components of Sigmoidal Active Regions
Slow Rise and Partial Eruption of a Double-Decker Filament. I Observations and Interpretation
Sigmoid-to-Flux-Rope Transition Leading to A Loop-Like Coronal Mass Ejection
A Reconnecting Current Sheet Imaged in A Solar Flare
Fast Contraction of Coronal Loops at the Flare Peak
Coronal Implosion and Particle Acceleration in the Wake of a Filament Eruption
Hard X-ray Emission In Kinking Filaments
Implosion in a Coronal Eruption
Asymmetric Eruptive Filaments

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