34th Solar Physics Division Meeting, June 2003
Session 4 Corona II
Poster, Monday, June 16, 2003, 3:30-5:00pm, Mezzanine

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[4.15] Evidence for Flux Ropes in the Solar Corona

D. M. Rust (JHU/APL)

Although twisted magnetic flux ropes are clearly ejected from the Sun, as demonstrated by LASCO and EIT movies of erupting prominences, there has been some controversy about whether flux ropes exist in the corona before ejection. It has been argued that they are formed only upon ejection. The issue is important because of the need to understand how eruptions are initiated. Now a clearer picture of solar flux ropes is emerging with recent high-resolution observations of solar filaments. Filamentís twist and writhe are frequently detectable even when they do not escape the Sun. The observations of November 1, 2001 and May 27, 2002 made by the TRACE solar telescope both appear to show the sudden eruption without ejection of a filament, with transformation of some internal twist into a writhe of approx. + 1. Since magnetic helicity is approximately conserved, even in these rapid events, it follows that these kink events are strong evidence that flux ropes are present in the corona. We suggest that a flux rope may undergo several kink instabilities before it is ejected from the Sun. We identify coronal X-ray sigmoids as the aftermath of these sudden kink events. NASA supported this work under grant NAG5-11584.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.