How Magnetic Reconnection May Affect the Coherence of Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejections

Academic Article


  • Abstract On 2020 April 19–20, a solar ejection was seen by spacecraft in a radial alignment that included Solar Orbiter and Wind. The ejection contained a magnetic flux rope where magnetic field and plasma parameters were well correlated between spacecraft. This structure is called an “unperturbed magnetic flux rope” (UMFR). Ahead of the UMFR is a portion of the ejection (not sheath) that is referred to as “upstream” (US). We focus on the US and inquire why the correlation is so much weaker there. Specifically, we analyze data collected by Solar Orbiter at 0.81 au and Wind at L1. We show that a plausible cause for the lack of coherence in the US is a combination of front erosion and internal reconnection occurring there. Front erosion is inferred from an analysis of azimuthal magnetic flux balance in the UMFR. In the present case, we contend that the US, rather than the UMFR, is the source of the eroded field lines. The presence of erosion is supported further by a direct comparison of the magnetic field data at both spacecraft that shows, in particular, a massive shrinkage of the front portion of the US. Internal reconnection is also happening at thin current sheets inside the US. Strong nonradial flows are reconfiguring the structure. As a result of these reconnection processes, a whole section of the US is disrupted and field lines move down the flanks of the ejection and out of view of Wind.
  • Authors

  • Farrugia, CJ
  • Vasquez, BJ
  • Lugaz, Noe
  • Al-Haddad, NA
  • Richardson, IG
  • Davies, EE
  • Winslow, RM
  • Zhuang, Bin
  • Scolini, C
  • Torbert, RB
  • Wilson, LB
  • Regnault, F
  • Rogers, A
  • Galvin, AB
  • Yu, W
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 1, 2023
  • Has Subject Area

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 15
  • End Page

  • 15
  • Volume

  • 953
  • Issue

  • 1