Acceleration and Expansion of a Coronal Mass Ejection in the High Corona: Role of Magnetic Reconnection

Academic Article


  • Abstract The important role played by magnetic reconnection in the early acceleration of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) has been widely discussed. However, as CMEs may have expansion speeds comparable to their propagation speeds in the corona, it is not clear whether and how reconnection contributes to the true acceleration and expansion separately. To address this question, we analyze the dynamics of a moderately fast CME on 2013 February 27, associated with a continuous acceleration of its front into the high corona, even though its speed had reached ∼700 km s−1, which is faster than the solar wind. The apparent acceleration of the CME is found to be due to its expansion in the radial direction. The true acceleration of the CME, i.e., the acceleration of its center, is then estimated by taking into account the expected deceleration caused by the drag force of the solar wind acting on a fast CME. It is found that the true acceleration and the radial expansion have similar magnitudes. We find that magnetic reconnection occurs after the eruption of the CME and continues during its propagation in the high corona, which contributes to its dynamic evolution. Comparison between the apparent acceleration related to the expansion and the true acceleration that compensates the drag shows that, for this case, magnetic reconnection contributes almost equally to the expansion and to the acceleration of the CME. The consequences of these measurements for the evolution of CMEs as they transit from the corona to the heliosphere are discussed.
  • Authors

  • Zhuang, Bin
  • Lugaz, Noe
  • Temmer, Manuela
  • Gou, Tingyu
  • Al-Haddad, Nada
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • July 1, 2022
  • Has Subject Area


  • astro-ph.SR
  • physics.plasm-ph
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 169
  • End Page

  • 169
  • Volume

  • 933
  • Issue

  • 2