Heliospheric Imaging of 3D Density Structures During the Multiple Coronal Mass Ejections of Late July to Early August 2010


It is usually difficult to gain a consistent global understanding of a coronal mass ejection (CME) eruption and its propagation when only near-Sun imagery and the local measurements derived from single-spacecraft observations are available. Three-dimensional (3D) density reconstructions based on heliospheric imaging allow us to “fill in” the temporal and spatial gaps between the near-Sun and in situ data to provide a truly global picture of the propagation and interactions of the CME as it moves through the inner heliosphere. In recent years the heliospheric propagation of dense structures has been observed and measured by the heliospheric imagers of the Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) and on the twin Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft. We describe the use of several 3D reconstruction techniques based on these heliospheric imaging data sets to distinguish and track the propagation of multiple CMEs in the inner heliosphere during the very active period of solar activity in late July – early August 2010. We employ 3D reconstruction techniques used at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) based on a kinematic solar wind model, and also the empirical Tappin–Howard model. We compare our results with those from other studies of this active period, in particular the heliospheric simulations made with the ENLIL model by Odstrcil et al. (J. Geophys. Res., 2013) and the in situ results from multiple spacecraft provided by Möstl et al. (Astrophys. J. 758, 10 – 28, 2012). We find that the SMEI results in particular provide an overall context for the multiple-density flows associated with these CMEs. For the first time we are able to intercompare the 3D reconstructed densities with the timing and magnitude of in situ density structures at five spacecraft spread over 150° in ecliptic longitude and from 0.4 to 1 AU in radial distance. We also model the magnetic flux-rope structures at three spacecraft using both force-free and non-force-free modelling, and compare their timing and spatial structure with the reconstructed density flows.

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Solar Physics



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