A magnetic cloud containing prominence material: January 1997 

L. F. Burlaga, R. Fitzenreiter, R. Lepping, K. Ogilvie, A. Szabo, A. Lazarus, J. Steinberg, G. Gloecker, R. Howard, D. Michels, C. Farrugia, R. P. Lin, and D. E. Larson

Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics, NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771


This work discusses the relations among (1) an interplanetary force-free magnetic cloud containing a plug of cold high-density material with unusual composition, (2) a coronal mass ejection (CME), (3) an eruptive prominence, and (4) a model of prominence material supported by a force-free magnetic flux rope in a coronal streamer. The magnetic cloud moved past the Wind spacecraft located in the solar wind upstream of Earth on January 10 and 11, 1997. The magnetic field configuration in the magnetic cloud was approximately a constant -a , force-free flux rope. The 4He++/H+ abundance in most of the magnetic cloud was similar to that of the streamer belt material, suggesting an association between the magnetic cloud and a helmet streamer. A very cold region of exceptionally high density was detected at the rear of the magnetic cloud. This dense region had an unusual composition, including (1) a relatively high (10%) 4He++/H+ abundance (indicating a source near the photosphere), and (2) 4He+ , with an abundance relative to 4He++ of ~1%, and the unusual charge states of O5+ and Fe5+ (indicating a freezing-in temperature of (1.6-4.0) X 105 ° K, which is unusually low, but consistent with that expected for prominence material). Thus we suggest that the high-density region might be prominence material. The CME was seen in the solar corona on January 6, 1997, by the large angle and spectrometric coronagraph (LASCO) instrument on SOHO shortly after an eruptive prominence. A helmet streamer was observed near the latitude of the eruptive prominence a quarter of a solar rotation before and after the eruptive prominence. These observations are consistent with recent models, including the conceptual model of Low and Hundhausen [1995] for a quasi-static helmet streamer containing a force-free flux rope which supports prominence material and the dynamical model of Wu, et. al. [1997] for CMEs produced by the disruption of such a configuration.

J. Geophys. Res., 103, A1, 277-285, 1998