Eruptions on the sun come in different sizes and shapes, from long jets to massive explosions called CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections). It was previously believed that these were driven by varied processes.
Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have now proposed a universal mechanism which can explain the entire range of solar eruptions.
Their study was based on the high-resolution observations of filaments from NASA's SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory), and the joint NASA Hinode / Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency satellite.
For long they had known that the onset of CME eruptions is linked to filaments. Now, the improved observations revealed that the onset of jets too is accompanied by filaments.
The scientists refer their proposed mechanism for the way these filaments cause eruptions as the “breakout model”. Because, the stressed filament persistently pushes at its magnetic restraints and eventually breaks through it into space.
Their computer models to reproduce jets in the computer simulations which were replicas of the space observations, suggesting that jets and CMEs happen similarly.
"With this mechanism, we can understand the similarities between small jets and massive CMEs, and infer eruptions anywhere in between" says the study-lead.