Onset of Flare Reconnection and Coronal Mass Ejection Acceleration in Eruptive Events
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The mechanism for producing fast coronal mass ejections/eruptive flares (CME/EFs) is hotly debated. Most models rely on ideal instability/loss of equilibrium or magnetic reconnection; these two categories of models predict different relationships between CMEs and flares. Discriminating between them requires continuous, high-resolution observations and state-of-the-art numerical simulations that enable the relative timing of key stages in the events to be determined. With the advent of SDO, STEREO, and massively parallel supercomputers, we are well poised to tackle this major challenge to our understanding of solar activity. In recent work (Karpen et al. 2012), we determined the timing and location of triggering mechanisms for the breakout initiation model (Antiochos et al. 1999), using ultra-high-resolution magnetohydrodynamic simulations with adaptive mesh refinement and high-cadence analysis. This approach enabled us to resolve as finely as possible the small scales of magnetic reconnection and island formation in the current sheets, within the global context of a large-scale solar eruption. We found that the explosive acceleration of the fast CME occurs only after the onset of rapid reconnection at the flare current sheet formed in the wake of the rising CME flux rope. In the present work, we discriminate between ideal and resistive mechanisms for fast CME/EFs using a combination of state-of-the-art observations and simulations. We compare flare reconnection rates, measured from flare ribbon UV brightenings observed by SDO/AIA and magnetograms from SDO/HMI, with the height evolution of CME fronts and cores, measured from STEREO/SECCHI EUV and coronagraph images. We also calculate these quantities from numerical simulations and compare them to observations, as a new test of the breakout initiation model.