The role of lateral magnetic reconnection in solar eruptive events
Abstract. On 10–11 December 2005 a slow CME occurred in between two coronal streamers in the Western Hemisphere. SOHO/MDI magnetograms show a multipolar magnetic configuration at the photosphere consisting of a complex of active regions located at the CME source and two bipoles at the base of the lateral coronal streamers. White light observations reveal that the expanding CME affects both of the lateral streamers and induces the release of plasma within or close to them. These transient phenomena are possibly due to magnetic reconnections induced by the CME expansion that occurs either inside the streamer current sheet or between the CME flanks and the streamer. Our observations show that CMEs can be associated to not only a single reconnection process at a single location in the corona, but also to many reconnection processes occurring at different times and locations around the flux rope. Numerical simulations are used to demonstrate that the observed lateral reconnections can be reproduced. The observed secondary reconnections associated to CMEs may facilitate the CME release by globally decreasing the magnetic tension of the corona. Future CME models should therefore take into account the lateral reconnection effect.