Energy of force-free magnetic fields in relation to coronal mass ejections

G. S. Choe, C. Z. Cheng

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20 Citations (Scopus)


In typical observations of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), a magnetic structure of a helmet-shaped closed configuration bulges out and eventually opens up. However, a spontaneous transition between these field configurations has been regarded to be energetically impossible in force-free fields according to the Aly-Sturrock theorem. The theorem states that the maximum energy state of force-free fields with a given boundary normal field distribution is the open field. The theorem implicitly assumes the existence of the maximum energy state, which may not be taken for granted. In this study, we have constructed force-free fields containing tangential discontinuities in multiple flux systems. These force-free fields can be generated from a potential field by footpoint motions that do not conserve the boundary normal field distribution. Some of these force-free fields are found to have more magnetic energy than the corresponding open fields. The constructed force-free configurations are compared with observational features of CME-bearing active regions. Possible mechanisms of CMEs are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L179-L182
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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