Featured Image: A Twisted Magnetic Rope

In June 2012, the Sun released a powerful solar flare and an explosive burst of plasma and magnetic fields called a coronal mass ejection. Days later, this solar storm swept through the inner solar system, where multiple spacecraft sampled the passing plasma and magnetic fields. In a recent publication, a team led by Qiang Hu (University of Alabama in Huntsville) used a new quasi-three-dimensional fitting method to analyze spacecraft data of the event and deduce the structure of the passing bundle of magnetic field lines. The image above shows the simulated strength and direction — with yellow being strong and outward pointing and blue being strong and inward pointing — of the magnetic field lines that the Wind spacecraft crossed as the storm traveled past it. (In this image, the spacecraft would be located roughly halfway along the length of the field lines.) These simulations show three-dimensional winding behavior, highlighted by the red lines in the image above, that was not present in one- or two-dimensional models of the same event. To learn more about this event and the authors’ new modeling technique, be sure to check out the full article below!


“Validation and Interpretation of a Three-dimensional Configuration of a Magnetic Cloud Flux Rope,” Qiang Hu et al 2022 ApJ 934 50. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac7803