Academic Article


  • We report on a numerical investigation of two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which interact as they propagate in the inner heliosphere. We focus on the effect of the orientation of the CMEs relative to each other by performing four different simulations with the axis of the second CME rotated by 90 degrees from one simulation to the next. Each magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) simulation is performed in three dimensions (3-D) with the Space Weather Modeling Framework (SWMF) in an idealized setting reminiscent of solar minimum conditions. We extract synthetic satellite measurements during and after the interaction and compare the different cases. We also analyze the kinematics of the two CMEs, including the evolution of their widths and aspect ratios. We find that the first CME contracts radially as a result of the interaction in all cases, but the amount of subsequent radial expansion depends on the relative orientation of the two CMEs. Reconnection between the two ejecta and between the ejecta and the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) determines the type of structure resulting from the interaction. When a CME with a high inclination with respect to the ecliptic overtakes one with a low inclination, it is possible to create a compound event with a smooth rotation in the magnetic field vector over more than 180 degrees. Due to reconnection, the second CME only appears as an extended "tail", and the event may be mistaken for a glancing encounter with an isolated CME. This configuration differs significantly from the one usually studied of a multiple-magnetic cloud event, which we found to be associated with the interaction of two CMEs with the same orientation.
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 20, 2013
  • Has Subject Area


  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
  • Sun: heliosphere
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • methods: numerical
  • shock waves
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 20
  • End Page

  • 20
  • Volume

  • 778
  • Issue

  • 1