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Initiation of Coronal Mass Ejections by Tether-Cutting ReconnectionWe present and interpret examples of the eruptive motion and flare brightening observed in the onset of magnetic explosions that produce coronal mass ejections. The observations are photospheric magnetograms and sequences of coronal and/or chromospheric images. In our examples, the explosion is apparently driven by the ejective eruption of a sigmoidal sheared-field flux rope from the core of an initially closed bipole. This eruption is initiated (triggered and unleashed) by reconnection located either (1) internally, low in the sheared core field, or (2) externally, at a magnetic null above the closed bipole. The internal reconnection is commonly called 'tether-cutting" reconnection, and the external reconnection is commonly called "break-out' reconnection. We point out that break-out reconnection amounts to external tether cutting. In one example, the eruptive motion of the sheared core field starts several minutes prior to any detectable brightening in the coronal images. We suggest that in this case the eruption is triggered by internal tether-cutting reconnection that at first is too slow and/or too localized to produce detectable heating in the coronal images. This work is supported by NASA's Office of Space Science through its Solar & Heliospheric Physics Supporting Research & Technology program and its Sun-Earth Connection Guest Investigator program.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Moore, Ronald L.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Sterling, Alphonse C.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Falconer, David A.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Six, N. Frank
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2002
Subject Category
Solar Physics
Meeting Information
Meeting: SHINE 2002 Workshop
Location: Banff, Alberta
Country: Canada
Start Date: August 18, 2002
End Date: August 22, 2002
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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