Solar Physics

, Volume 285, Issue 1–2, pp 411–423 | Cite as

Speeds and Arrival Times of Solar Transients Approximated by Self-similar Expanding Circular Fronts

  • C. MöstlEmail author
  • J. A. Davies


The NASA Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) mission offered the possibility to forecast the arrival times, speeds, and directions of solar transients from outside the Sun–Earth line. In particular, we are interested in predicting potentially geoeffective interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) from observations of density structures at large observation angles from the Sun (with the STEREO Heliospheric Imager instrument). We contribute to this endeavor by deriving analytical formulas concerning a geometric correction for the ICME speed and arrival time for the technique introduced by Davies et al. (Astrophys. J., 2012, in press), called self-similar expansion fitting (SSEF). This model assumes that a circle propagates outward, along a plane specified by a position angle (e.g., the ecliptic), with constant angular half-width (λ). This is an extension to earlier, more simple models: fixed-Φ fitting (λ=0°) and harmonic mean fitting (λ=90°). In contrast to previous models, this approach has the advantage of allowing one to assess clearly if a particular location in the heliosphere, such as a planet or spacecraft, might be expected to be hit by the ICME front. Our correction formulas are especially significant for glancing hits, where small differences in the direction greatly influence the expected speeds (up to 100 – 200 km s−1) and arrival times (up to two days later than the apex). For very wide ICMEs (2λ>120°), the geometric correction becomes very similar to the one derived by Möstl et al. (Astrophys. J. 741, 34, 2011) for the harmonic mean model. These analytic expressions can also be used for empirical or analytical models to predict the 1 AU arrival time of an ICME by correcting for effects of hits by the flank rather than the apex, if the width and direction of the ICME in a plane are known and a circular geometry of the ICME front is assumed.


Arrival Time Heliocentric Distance Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejection Corotating Interaction Region Heliospheric Imager 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 263252 [COMESEP]. This research was supported by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme. J.A.D acknowledges funding from the UK Space Agency. We thank the guest editor Noé Lugaz and the referee for ideas on how to simplify the final equations and their derivation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Space Science LaboratoryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Institute of PhysicsUniversity of GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.RAL SpaceHarwell OxfordDidcotUK

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