The Interaction of Successive Coronal Mass Ejections: A Review

Academic Article


  • We present a review of the different aspects associated with the interaction of successive CMEs in the corona and inner heliosphere, focusing on the initiation of series of CMEs, their interaction in the heliosphere, the particle acceleration associated with successive CMEs, and the effect of compound events on Earth's magnetosphere. The two main mechanisms resulting in the eruption of series of CMEs are sympathetic eruptions and homologous eruptions. The interaction of successive CMEs has been observed remotely in coronagraphs and heliospheric imagers, and inferred from in situ measurements. It is associated with magnetic reconnection, momentum exchange, the propagation of a fast magnetosonic shock through a magnetic ejecta and changes in CME expansion. The presence of a CME a few hours before a fast eruption is connected with higher fluxes of SEPs, while CME-CME interaction occurring in the corona is often associated with unusual radio bursts. Higher suprathermal population, enhanced turbulence and wave activity, stronger shocks, and shock-shock or shock-CME interaction have been proposed as physical mechanisms to explain these SEP events. When measured in situ, CME-CME interaction may be associated with relatively well organized multiple-magnetic cloud events, instances of shocks propagating through a previous magnetic ejecta or more complex ejecta. The compression of a CME by another and the propagation of a shock inside a magnetic ejecta can lead to extreme values of the southward magnetic field, sometimes associated with large values of the dynamic pressure. This can result in intense geomagnetic storms, but also trigger substorms and large earthward motions of the magnetopause, potentially associated with changes in the outer radiation belts. Future measurements by Solar Probe+ and Solar Orbiter may shed light on the evolution of CMEs as they interact.
  • Authors

  • Lugaz, Noe
  • Temmer, Manuela
  • Wang, Yuming
  • Farrugia, Charles
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • April 2017
  • Has Subject Area


  • CME initiation
  • CME interaction
  • Coronal mass ejections
  • Geoeffects
  • Radio emission
  • Solar energetic particles
  • Solar-terrestrial relations
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 64
  • Volume

  • 292
  • Issue

  • 4