Can streamer blobs prevent the buildup of the interplanetary magnetic field?

M. K. Van Aalst, P. C.H. Martens*, A. J.C. Beliën

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Coronal mass ejections continuously drag closed magnetic field lines away from the Sun, adding new flux to the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). We propose that the outward-moving blobs that have been observed in helmet streamers are evidence of ongoing, small-scale reconnection in streamer current sheets, which may play an important role in the prevention of an indefinite buildup of the IMF. Reconnection between two open field lines from both sides of a streamer current sheet creates a new closed field line, which becomes part of the helmet, and a disconnected field line, which moves outward. The blobs are formed by plasma from the streamer that is swept up in the trough of the outward-moving field line. We show that this mechanism is supported by observations from Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)/Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph. Additionally, we propose a thorough statistical study to quantify the contribution of blob formation to the reduction of the IMF and indicate how this mechanism may be verified by observations with SOHO/Ultraviolet Coronagraph Spectrometer and the proposed NASA Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and ESA Polar Orbiter missions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L125-L128
Number of pages4
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Interplanetary medium
  • Solar wind
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Sun: particle emission
  • ITC-CV


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