Accuracy and Limitations of Fitting and Stereoscopic Methods to Determine the Direction of Coronal Mass Ejections from Heliospheric Imagers Observations

Academic Article


  • Using data from the Heliospheric Imagers (HIs) onboard STEREO, it is possible to derive the direction of propagation of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in addition to their speed with a variety of methods. For CMEs observed by both STEREO spacecraft, it is possible to derive their direction using simultaneous observations from the twin spacecraft and also, using observations from only one spacecraft with fitting methods. This makes it possible to test and compare different analyses techniques. In this article, we propose a new fitting method based on observations from one spacecraft, which we compare to the commonly used fitting method of Sheeley et al. (1999). We also compare the results from these two fitting methods with those from two stereoscopic methods, focusing on 12 CMEs observed simultaneously by the two STEREO spacecraft in 2008 and 2009. We find evidence that the fitting method of Sheeley et al. (1999) can result in significant errors in the determination of the CME direction when the CME propagates outside of 60deg \pm 20 deg from the Sun-spacecraft line. We expect our new fitting method to be better adapted to the analysis of halo or limb CMEs with respect to the observing spacecraft. We also find some evidence that direct triangulation in the HI fields-of-view should only be applied to CMEs propagating approximatively towards Earth (\pm 20deg from the Sun-Earth line). Last, we address one of the possible sources of errors of fitting methods: the assumption of radial propagation. Using stereoscopic methods, we find that at least seven of the 12 studied CMEs had an heliospheric deflection of less than 20deg as they propagated in the HI fields-of-view, which, we believe, validates this approximation.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • December 2010
  • Has Subject Area


  • Coronal mass ejections
  • Heliospheric imagers
  • Methods
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 411
  • End Page

  • 429
  • Volume

  • 267
  • Issue

  • 2