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Role of Sunspot and Sunspot-Group Rotation in Driving Sigmoidal Active Region Eruptions


We study active region NOAA 9684 (N06L285) which produced an X1.0/3B flare on November 4, 2001 associated with a fast CME (1810 km s−1) and the largest proton event (31 700 pfu) in cycle 23. SOHO/MDI continuum image data show that a large leading sunspot rotated counter-clockwise around its umbral center for at least 4 days prior to the flare. Moreover, it is found from SOHO/MDI 96 m line-of-sight magnetograms that the systematic tilt angle of the bipolar active region, a proxy for writhe of magnetic fluxtubes, changed from a positive value to a negative one. This signifies a counter-clockwise rotation of the spot-group as a whole. Using vector magnetograms from Huairou Solar Observing Station (HSOS), we find that the twist of the active region magnetic fields is dominantly left handed (αbest = −0.03), and that the vertical current and current helicity are predominantly negative, and mostly distributed within the positive rotating sunspot. The active region exhibits a narrow inverse S-shaped Hα filament and soft X-ray sigmoid distributed along the magnetic neutral line. The portion of the filament which is most closely associated with the rotating sunspot disappeared on November 4, and the corresponding portion of the sigmoid was observed to erupt, producing the flare and initiating the fast CME and proton event. These results imply that the sunspot rotation is a primary driver of helicity production and injection into the corona. We suggest that the observed active region dynamics and subsequent filament and sigmoid eruption are driven by a kink instability which occurred due to a large amount of the helicity injection.

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Correspondence to Lirong Tian.

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Tian, L., Alexander, D. Role of Sunspot and Sunspot-Group Rotation in Driving Sigmoidal Active Region Eruptions. Sol Phys 233, 29–43 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11207-006-2505-z

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  • Flare
  • Proton Event
  • Active Region NOAA
  • Current Helicity
  • Magnetic Neutral Line