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3D Reconstruction of a Rotating Erupting Prominence

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A bright prominence associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME) was seen erupting from the Sun on 9 April 2008. This prominence was tracked by both the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) EUVI and COR1 telescopes, and was seen to rotate about the line of sight as it erupted; therefore, the event has been nicknamed the “Cartwheel CME.” The threads of the prominence in the core of the CME quite clearly indicate the structure of a weakly to moderately twisted flux rope throughout the field of view, up to heliocentric heights of 4 solar radii. Although the STEREO separation was 48°, it was possible to match some sharp features in the later part of the eruption as seen in the 304 Å line in EUVI and in the Hα-sensitive bandpass of COR1 by both STEREO Ahead and Behind. These features could then be traced out in three-dimensional space, and reprojected into a view in which the eruption is directed toward the observer. The reconstructed view shows that the alignment of the prominence to the vertical axis rotates as it rises up to a leading-edge height of ≈ 2.5 solar radii, and then remains approximately constant. The alignment at 2.5 solar radii differs by about 115° from the original filament orientation inferred from Hα and EUV data, and the height profile of the rotation, obtained here for the first time, shows that two thirds of the total rotation are reached within ≈ 0.5 solar radii above the photosphere. These features are well reproduced by numerical simulations of an unstable moderately twisted flux rope embedded in external flux with a relatively strong shear field component.

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Correspondence to W. T. Thompson.

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Part of this work was done while B. Kliem visited the Space Science Division of the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, USA.

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Thompson, W.T., Kliem, B. & Török, T. 3D Reconstruction of a Rotating Erupting Prominence. Sol Phys 276, 241–259 (2012).

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