What Is the Nature of EUV Waves? First STEREO 3D Observations and Comparison with Theoretical Models


One of the major discoveries of the Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) on SOHO was the intensity enhancements propagating over a large fraction of the solar surface. The physical origin(s) of the so-called EIT waves is still strongly debated with either wave (primarily fast-mode MHD waves) or nonwave (pseudo-wave) interpretations. The difficulty in understanding the nature of EUV waves lies in the limitations of the EIT observations that have been used almost exclusively for their study. They suffer from low cadence and single temperature and viewpoint coverage. These limitations are largely overcome by the SECCHI/EUVI observations onboard the STEREO mission. The EUVI telescopes provide high-cadence, simultaneous multitemperature coverage and two well-separated viewpoints. We present here the first detailed analysis of an EUV wave observed by the EUVI disk imagers on 7 December 2007 when the STEREO spacecraft separation was ≈ 45°. Both a small flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME) were associated with the wave. We also offer the first comprehensive comparison of the various wave interpretations against the observations. Our major findings are as follows: (1) High-cadence (2.5-minute) 171 Å  images showed a strong association between expanding loops and the wave onset and significant differences in the wave appearance between the two STEREO viewpoints during its early stages; these differences largely disappeared later; (2) the wave appears at the active region periphery when an abrupt disappearance of the expanding loops occurs within an interval of 2.5 minutes; (3) almost simultaneous images at different temperatures showed that the wave was most visible in the 1 – 2 MK range and almost invisible in chromospheric/transition region temperatures; (4) triangulations of the wave indicate it was rather low lying (≈ 90 Mm above the surface); (5) forward-fitting of the corresponding CME as seen by the COR1 coronagraphs showed that the projection of the best-fit model on the solar surface was inconsistent with the location and size of the co-temporal EUV wave; and (6) simulations of a fast-mode wave were found in good agreement with the overall shape and location of the observed wave. Our findings give significant support for a fast-mode interpretation of EUV waves and indicate that they are probably triggered by the rapid expansion of the loops associated with the CME.

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STEREO Science Results at Solar Minimum

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Patsourakos, S., Vourlidas, A., Wang, Y.M. et al. What Is the Nature of EUV Waves? First STEREO 3D Observations and Comparison with Theoretical Models. Sol Phys 259, 49–71 (2009).

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  • Flares, dynamics
  • Corona