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As observed in Thomson-scattered white light, coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are manifest as large-scale expulsions of plasma magnetically driven from the corona in the most energetic eruptions from the Sun. It remains a tantalizing mystery as to how these erupting magnetic fields evolve to form the complex structures we observe in the solar wind at Earth. Here, we strive to provide a fresh perspective on the post-eruption and interplanetary evolution of CMEs, focusing on the physical processes that define the many complex interactions of the ejected plasma with its surroundings as it departs the corona and propagates through the heliosphere. We summarize the ways CMEs and their interplanetary CMEs (ICMEs) are rotated, reconfigured, deformed, deflected, decelerated and disguised during their journey through the solar wind. This study then leads to consideration of how structures originating in coronal eruptions can be connected to their far removed interplanetary counterparts. Given that ICMEs are the drivers of most geomagnetic storms (and the sole driver of extreme storms), this work provides a guide to the processes that must be considered in making space weather forecasts from remote observations of the corona.
Space Science Reviews
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Manchester, W., Kilpua, E.K.J., Liu, Y.D. et al. The Physical Processes of CME/ICME Evolution. Space Sci Rev 212, 1159–1219 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-017-0394-0