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Observational Evidence of Torus Instability as Trigger Mechanism for Coronal Mass Ejections: The 2011 August 4 Filament Eruption  

Francesco P. Zuccarello   Submitted: 2014-04-12 04:38

Solar filaments are magnetic structures often observed in the solar atmosphere and consist of plasma that is cooler and denser than their surroundings. They are visible for days"even weeks"which suggests that they are often in equilibrium with their environment before disappearing or erupting. Several eruption models have been proposed that aim to reveal what mechanism causes (or triggers) these solar eruptions. Validating these models through observations represents a fundamental step in our understanding of solar eruptions. We present an analysis of the observation of a filament eruption that agrees with the torus instability model. This model predicts that a magnetic flux rope embedded in an ambient field undergoes an eruption when the axis of the flux rope reaches a critical height that depends on the topology of the ambient field. We use the two vantage points of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory to reconstruct the three-dimensional shape of the filament, to follow its morphological evolution, and to determine its height just before eruption. The magnetograms acquired by SDO/Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager are used to infer the topology of the ambient field and to derive the critical height for the onset of the torus instability. Our analysis shows that the torus instability is the trigger of the eruption. We also find that some pre-eruptive processes, such as magnetic reconnection during the observed flares and flux cancellation at the neutral line, facilitated the eruption by bringing the filament to a region where the magnetic field was more vulnerable to the torus instability.

Authors: Zuccarello, F. P.; Seaton, D. B.; Mierla, M.; Poedts, S.; Rachmeler, L. A.; Romano, P.; Zuccarello, F.
Projects: None

Publication Status: Published ApJ, 785, 88.
Last Modified: 2014-04-14 12:50
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Observational Evidence of Torus Instability as Trigger Mechanism for Coronal Mass Ejections: The 2011 August 4 Filament Eruption

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