Driving Mechanisms for Coronal Mass Ejections

  1. J. H. Waite Jr.,
  2. J. L. Burch and
  3. R. L. Moore
  1. R.S. Steinolfson

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM054p0269

Solar System Plasma Physics

Solar System Plasma Physics

How to Cite

Steinolfson, R.S. (1989) Driving Mechanisms for Coronal Mass Ejections, in Solar System Plasma Physics (eds J. H. Waite, J. L. Burch and R. L. Moore), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM054p0269

Author Information

  1. Institute for Fusion Studies, The University of Texas At Austin, Austin, TX 78712

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900742

Online ISBN: 9781118664315



  • Space plasmas;
  • Sun;
  • Magnetosphere;
  • Astrophysics


Mass ejections are new bright features observed in white-light that give the appearance of outward moving material. An acknowledged key ingredient in both the ejection and its progenitor is the magnetic field, although the precise nature of its role, particularily in the driving mechanism, remains unclear. We begin by reviewing analyses of coordinated data sets that establish the relative time sequence and spatial location of individually identified phenomena (such as the flare impulsive phase, eruptive prominence, CME trajectory, etc.) that better define potential drivers. The overwhelming implication from the observations is that a loss of equilibrium or instability in the global magnetic field configuration initiates the subsequent rapid nonlinear evolution that results in the ejection of mass. Some of the models and numerical simulations that have been developed with the intent of determining the physical interactions in the driving mechanism and coronal mass ejection are then considered. Although progress has been made in identifying the primary initiating mechanism, our understanding of the precise physics involved in the nonlinear ejection process is in its infancy. Some future research that may improve our knowledge of this phenomenon through continued analytical work and, perhaps more importantly due to the complex nonlinear processes involved, numerical simulations is also discussed.