A comparison of ground-based and spacecraft observations of coronal mass ejections from 1980–1989


  • O. C. St. Cyr,

  • J. T. Burkepile,

  • A. J. Hundhausen,

  • A. R. Lecinski


We report here an analysis of observations of solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) acquired in white light by the Mark III (MK3) K coronameter at Mauna Loa Solar Observatory between 1980 and 1989. Statistical properties of the locations, sizes, and speeds of these events are described. These properties are compared to those in the two other white light CME catalogs from the 1980s, the CMEs observed by the Solwind and SMM spaceborne coronagraphs, and relatively good statistical agreement is found between the three data sets taken over the entire period of observation. A detailed examination was performed for the 141 MK3 CMEs that were also observed by SMM. Virtually all (93%) of the CMEs detected low in the corona by the MK3 instrument were observed to travel out of the SMM field of view, into interplanetary space. The average width of CMEs in the MK3 field of view was 12° smaller than that measured in SMM, and we interpret this statistic as an indication of some increase in size as CMEs move outward through the corona. For a subset of 55 of those mass ejections we were able to combine detailed observations from both MK3 and SMM. Using the combined measurements, we were able to detect and to quantify the initial period of acceleration in a much larger fraction (61%) of the features than was possible from either MK3 alone (9%) or SMM alone (21%). The acceleration was positive for 87% of those features, with an average (median) value of +0.264 km s−2 (+0.044 km s−2). A distinction in terms of association with other forms of solar activity was also evident in this analysis: 55% of the CMEs associated with active regions moved with constant speed, but 82% of the features associated with the eruption of solitary prominences moved with constant acceleration. Also, the average speed for CMEs associated with active regions was significantly faster than those with prominence association (955 versus 411 km s−1). The detection of positive acceleration demonstrates that the forces propelling the CME continue to dominate these events, at least through the altitudes covered by the MK3 and SMM fields of view.