, Volume 182, Issue 1, pp 107-137

Conditions for the Formation and Maintenance of Filaments – (Invited Review)

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Abstract

Observational conditions for the formation and maintenance of filaments are reviewed since 1989 in the light of recent findings on their structure, chirality, inferred magnetic topology, and mass flows. Recent observations confirm the necessary conditions previously cited: (1) their location at a boundary between opposite-polarity magnetic fields (2) a system of overlying coronal loops, (3) a magnetically-defined channel beneath, (4) the convergence of the opposite-polarity network magnetic fields towards their common boundary within the channel and (5) cancellation of magnetic flux at the common polarity boundary. Evidence is put forth for three additional conditions associated with fully developed filaments: (A) field-aligned mass flows parallel with their fine structure (B) a multi-polar background source of small-scale magnetic fields necessary for the formation of the filament barbs and (C) a handedness property known as chirality which requires them to be either of two types, dextral or sinistral. One-to-one relationships have been established between the chirality of filaments and the chirality of their filament channels and overlying coronal arcades. These findings reinforce earlier evidence that every filament magnetic field is separate from the magnetic field of the overlying arcade but both are parts of a larger magnetic field system. The larger system has at least quadrupolar footprints in the photosphere and includes the filament channel and subphotospheric magnetic fields, This ‘systems’ view of filaments and their environment enables new perspectives on why arcades and channels are invariable conditions for their existence.