Evidence for magnetic flux cancelation leading to an ejective solar eruption observed by Hinode, TRACE, STEREO, and SoHO/MDI
Aims: We study the onset of a solar eruption involving a filament ejection on 2007 May 20.
Methods: We observe the filament in Hα images from Hinode/SOT and in EUV with TRACE and STEREO/SECCHI/EUVI. Hinode/XRT images are used to study the eruption in soft X-rays. From spectroscopic data taken with Hinode/EIS we obtain bulk-flow velocities, line profiles, and plasma densities in the onset region. The magnetic field evolution was observed in SoHO/MDI magnetograms.
Results: We observed a converging motion between two opposite polarity sunspots that form the primary magnetic polarity inversion line (PIL), along which resides filament material before eruption. Positive-flux magnetic elements, perhaps moving magnetic features (MMFs) flowing from the spot region, appear north of the spots, and the eruption onset occurs where these features cancel repeatedly in a negative-polarity region north of the sunspots. An ejection of material observed in Hα and EUV marks the start of the filament eruption (its “fast-rise”). The start of the ejection is accompanied by a sudden brightening across the PIL at the jet's base, observed in both broad-band images and in EIS. Small-scale transient brightenings covering a wide temperature range (Log Te = 4.8-6.3) are also observed in the onset region prior to eruption. The preflare transient brightenings are characterized by sudden, localized density enhancements (to above Log ne [ cm-3] = 9.75, in Fe XIII) that appear along the PIL during a time when pre-flare brightenings were occurring. The measured densities in the eruption onset region outside the times of those enhancements decrease with temperature. Persistent downflows (red-shifts) and line-broadening (Fe XII) are present along the PIL.
Conclusions: The array of observations is consistent with the pre-eruption sheared-core magnetic field being gradually destabilized by evolutionary tether-cutting flux cancelation that was driven by converging photospheric flows, and the main filament ejection being triggered by flux cancelation between the positive flux elements and the surrounding negative field. A definitive statement however on the eruption's ultimate cause would require comparison with simulations, or additional detailed observations of other eruptions occurring in similar magnetic circumstances.