Solar Physics

, Volume 285, Issue 1–2, pp 269–280 | Cite as

Stealth Coronal Mass Ejections: A Perspective

  • Timothy A. Howard
  • Richard A. Harrison
Observations and Modelling of the Inner Heliosphere


“Stealth CME” has become a commonly used term in recent studies of solar activity. It refers to a coronal mass ejection (CME) with no apparent solar surface association, and therefore has no easily identifiable signature to locate the region on the Sun from which the CME erupted. We review the literature and express caution in categorising CMEs in this way. CMEs were discovered some 40 years ago and there have been numerous statistical studies of associations with phenomena in the solar atmosphere which clearly identify a range of associations, from bright flares and large prominence eruptions to small flares, and even a lack of flares or any identifiable surface activity at all. In this sense the stealth CME concept is not new. One major question relates to whether the range of associations reveal different CME classes, i.e. different CME launch processes, or are indicative of a spectrum of coronal responses to one common process. We favour the latter and stress that this spectrum must be considered in the description of the CME launch, meaning that the physics of a so-called stealth CME must not be fundamentally different from a CME associated with major surface events. On the other hand we also stress that the use of a stealth CME category implies that all surface activity could indeed be detected using modern instrumentation. We argue that this may not be the case, and that even in the SDO era of full-Sun, high resolution imaging, we are restricted by instrument sensitivity and bandwidth issues. Thus, having reviewed the case for stealth CMEs as a distinct category, we stress the need to keep the concept in perspective.


Corona Coronal mass ejection Solar physics history 



Support for this work is provided in part by the NSF/SHINE Competition, Award 0849916 and the NASA Heliophysics program through grant NNX10AC05G. The authors thank C.E. DeForest for reviewing this work prior to submission.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Space StudiesSouthwest Research InstituteBoulderUSA
  2. 2.RAL SpaceRutherford Appleton LaboratoryChilton, DidcotUK

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