D. B. Seaton

University of Leuven, Louvain, Flanders, Belgium

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Publications (42)109.6 Total impact

  • E. D'Huys, D. B. Seaton, S. Poedts, D. Berghmans
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    ABSTRACT: Solar eruptions are usually associated with a variety of phenomena occurring in the low corona before, during, and after the onset of eruption. Though easily visible in coronagraph observations, so-called stealth coronal mass ejections (CMEs) do not obviously exhibit any of these low-coronal signatures. The presence or absence of distinct low-coronal signatures can be linked to different theoretical models to establish the mechanisms by which the eruption is initiated and driven. In this study, 40 CMEs without low-coronal signatures occurring in 2012 are identified. Their observational and kinematic properties are analyzed and compared to those of regular CMEs. Solar eruptions without clear on-disk or low-coronal signatures can lead to unexpected space weather impacts, since many early warning signs for significant space weather activity are not present in these events. A better understanding of their initiation mechanism(s) will considerably improve the ability to predict such space weather events.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2014; 795(1):49. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    E. D'Huys, D. B. Seaton, S. Poedts, D. Berghmans
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    ABSTRACT: Solar eruptions are usually associated with a variety of phenomena occurring in the low corona before, during, and after onset of eruption. Though easily visible in coronagraph observations, so-called stealth coronal mass ejections (CMEs) do not obviously exhibit any of these low-coronal signatures. The presence or absence of distinct low coronal signatures can be linked to different theoretical models to establish the mechanisms by which the eruption is initiated and driven. In this study, 40 CMEs without low coronal signatures, occurring in 2012, are identified. Their observational and kinematic properties are analyzed and compared to those of regular CMEs. Solar eruptions without clear on-disk or low coronal signatures can lead to unexpected space weather impacts, since many early warning signs for significant space weather activity are not present in these events. A better understanding of their initiation mechanism(s) will considerably improve the ability to predict such space weather events.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report on the first observation of a single hybrid magnetic structure that contains both a pseudostreamer and a double streamer. This structure was originally observed by the SWAP instrument on board the PROBA2 satellite between 2013 May 5 and 10. It consists of a pair of filament channels near the south pole of the Sun. On the western edge of the structure, the magnetic morphology above the filaments is that of a side-by-side double streamer, with open field between the two channels. On the eastern edge, the magnetic morphology is that of a coronal pseudostreamer without the central open field. We investigated this structure with multiple observations and modeling techniques. We describe the topology and dynamic consequences of such a unified structure.
    04/2014; 787(1).
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    ABSTRACT: Solar filaments are magnetic structures often observed in the solar atmosphere and consist of plasma that is cooler and denser than their surroundings. They are visible for days -- and even weeks -- which suggests that they are often in equilibrium with their environment before disappearing or erupting. Several eruption models have been proposed that aim to reveal what mechanism causes (or triggers) these solar eruptions. Validating these models through observations represents a fundamental step in our understanding of solar eruptions. We present an analysis of the observation of a filament eruption that agrees with the torus instability model. This model predicts that a magnetic flux rope embedded in an ambient field undergoes an eruption when the axis of the flux rope reaches a critical height that depends on the topology of the ambient field. We use the two vantage points of SDO and STEREO to reconstruct the three-dimensional shape of the filament, to follow its morphological evolution and to determine its height just before eruption. The magnetograms acquired by SDO/HMI are used to infer the topology of the ambient field and to derive the critical height for the onset of the torus instability. Our analysis shows that the torus instability is the trigger of the eruption. We also find that some pre-eruptive processes, such as magnetic reconnection during the observed flares and flux cancellation at the neutral line, facilitated the eruption by bringing the filament to a region where the magnetic field was more vulnerable to the torus instability.
    01/2014; 785(2).
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    ABSTRACT: Our studies of the solar chromosphere and corona at the 2012 and 2013 eclipses shortly after cycle maximum 24 (2011/2012) of solar activity (see: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/) involved radio observations of the 2012 annular eclipse with the Jansky Very Large Array, optical observations of the 2012 total eclipse from Australia, optical observations of the 2013 annular eclipse from Tennant Creek, Australia, and the 3 November 2013 total solar eclipse from Gabon. Our observations are coordinated with those from solar spacecraft: Solar Dynamics Observatory AIA and HMI, Hinode XRT and SOT, SOHO LASCO and EIT, PROBA2 SWAP, and STEREO SECCHI. Our 2012 totality observations include a CME whose motion was observed with a 37-minute interval. We include first results from the expedition to Gabon for the 3 November 2013 eclipse, a summary of eclipse results from along the path of totality across Africa, and a summary of the concomitant spacecraft observations. The Williams College 2012 expeditions were supported in part by NSF grant AGS-1047726 from Solar Terrestrial Research/NSF AGS, and by the Rob Spring Fund and Science Center funds at Williams. The JVLA is supported by the NSF. The Williams College 2013 total-eclipse expedition was supported in part by grant 9327-13 from the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society. ML was also supported in part by a Grant-In-Aid of Research from the National Academy of Sciences, administered by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society (Grant ID: G20120315159311). VR and MS acknowledge support for 2012 from projects VEGA 2/0003/13 and NGS-3139-12 of the National Geographic Society. We are grateful to K. Shiota (Japan) for kindly providing us with some of his 2012 eclipse coronal images. We thank Alec Engell (Montana State U) for assistance on site, and Terry Cuttle (Queensland Amateur Astronomers) for help with site arrangements. We thank Aram Friedman (Ansible Technologies), Michael Kentrianakis, and Nicholas Weber (Dexter Southfield School) for collaboration on imaging at the Australian total eclipse.
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report on the first observation of a single hybrid magnetic structure that contains both a pseudostreamer and a double helmet streamer. This structure was originally observed by the SWAP instrument aboard the PROBA2 satellite between 5 and 10 May 2013. It consists of a pair of filament channels near the south pole of the sun. On the western edge of the structure, the magnetic morphology above the filaments is that of a side-by-side double helmet streamer, with open field between the two channels. On the eastern edge, the magnetic morphology is that of a coronal pseudostreamer without the central open field. We investigated this structure with multiple observations and modelling techniques. We describe the topology and dynamic consequences of such a unified structure.
    12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We present the lessons learned about the degradation observed in several space solar missions, based on contributions at the Workshop about On-Orbit Degradation of Solar and Space Weather Instruments that took place at the Solar Terrestrial Centre of Excellence (Royal Observatory of Belgium) in Brussels on 3 May 2012. The aim of this workshop was to open discussions related to the degradation observed in Sun-observing instruments exposed to the effects of the space environment. This article summarizes the various lessons learned and offers recommendations to reduce or correct expected degradation with the goal of increasing the useful lifespan of future and ongoing space missions.
    Solar Physics 11/2013; 288(1):389-434. · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Sun Watcher with Active Pixels and Image Processing (SWAP) EUV solar telescope on board the Project for On-Board Autonomy 2 (PROBA2) spacecraft has been regularly observing the solar corona in a bandpass near 17.4 nm since February 2010. With a field-of-view of 54x54 arcmin, SWAP provides the widest-field images of the EUV corona available from the perspective of the Earth. By carefully processing and combining multiple SWAP images it is possible to produce low-noise composites that reveal the structure of the EUV corona to relatively large heights. A particularly important step in this processing was to remove instrumental stray light from the images by determining and deconvolving SWAP's point spread function (PSF) from the observations. In this paper we use the resulting images to conduct the first ever study of the evolution of the large-scale structure of the corona observed in the EUV over a three-year period that includes the complete rise phase of solar cycle 24. Of particular note is the persistence over many solar rotations of bright, diffuse features composed of open magnetic field that overlie polar crown filaments and extend to large heights above the solar surface. These features appear to be related to coronal fans, which have previously been observed in white-light coronagraph images and, at low heights, in the EUV. We also discuss the evolution of the corona at different heights above the solar surface and the evolution of the corona over the course of the solar cycle by hemisphere.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2013; 777(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a comparison of the solar corona observed during the total solar eclipses on 2010 July 11 and on 2012 November 13. The white light images were taken at Easter Island in 2010 and at Northeast Queensland, Australia, in 2012; while the concurrent EUV images were take with SDO/AIA and PROBA2/SWAP. The 2010 eclipse was observed at the beginning of Sunspot Cycle 24 [1], which peaked near our 2012 observation. We compare a plethora of corona features in the white light images and reveal some interesting differences in the enhanced EUV images taken by SDO/AIA and PROBA2/SWAP. We construct potential field models using our newly refined Coronal Modeling System (CMS2) software with line-of-sight photospheric magnetograms from SDO/HMI. The source surface heights derived from detailed comparison between our models and observations are compared to the standard source-surface model. We also compare the dynamics of the two eclipse observations. Similar to the 2010 eclipse, a CME was observed using temporally spaced eclipse images. We address unresolved problems in the models and observations with the hope of correcting them for future eclipse observations, such as the 2017 total solar eclipse across the continental U.S. References [1] Pasachoff, J. M., Rusin, V., Druckmüllerová, H., Saniga, M., Lu, M., Malamut, C., Seaton, D. B., Golub, L., Engell, A. J., Hill, S. W., Lucas, R., 2011, ApJ, 734, 114
    07/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We explain two puzzling aspects of Petschek's model for fast reconnection. One is its failure to occur in plasma simulations with uniform resistivity. The other is its inability to provide anything more than an upper limit for the reconnection rate. We have found that previously published analytical solutions based on Petschek's model are structurally unstable if the electrical resistivity is uniform. The structural instability is associated with the presence of an essential singularity at the X-line that is unphysical. By requiring that such a singularity does not exist, we obtain a formula that predicts a specific rate of reconnection. For uniform resistivity, reconnection can only occur at the slow, Sweet-Parker rate. For nonuniform resistivity, reconnection can occur at a much faster rate provided that the resistivity profile is not too flat near the X-line. If this condition is satisfied, then the scale length of the nonuniformity determines the reconnection rate.
    Physics of Plasmas 05/2013; 20(5). · 2.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Sun Watcher using Active Pixel system detector and Image Processing (SWAP) onboard the PRoject for OnBoard Autonomy-2 (PROBA2) spacecraft provides im-ages of the solar corona in EUV channel centered at 174 Å. These data, together with the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) onboard Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), are used to study the dynamics of coronal bright points. The evolution of the magnetic polarities and associated changes in morphol-ogy are studied using magnetograms and multi-wavelength imaging. The morphology of the bright points seen in low-resolution SWAP images and high-resolution AIA images show different structures, whereas the intensity variations with time show similar trends in both SWAP 174 Å and AIA 171 Å channels. We observe that bright points are seen in EUV chan-nels corresponding to a magnetic flux of the order of 10 18 Mx. We find that there exists a good correlation between total emission from the bright point in several UV–EUV channels and total unsigned photospheric magnetic flux above certain thresholds. The bright points also show periodic brightenings, and we have attempted to find the oscillation periods in bright points and their connection to magnetic-flux changes. The observed periods are gen-erally long (10 – 25 minutes) and there is an indication that the intensity oscillations may be generated by repeated magnetic reconnection.
    Solar Physics 01/2013; 286:125-142. · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Sun Watcher with Active Pixels and Image Processing (SWAP) is an EUV solar telescope on board ESA's Project for Onboard Autonomy 2 (PROBA2) mission launched on 2 November 2009. SWAP has a spectral bandpass centered on 17.4 nm and provides images of the low solar corona over a 54x54 arcmin field-of-view with 3.2 arcsec pixels and an imaging cadence of about two minutes. SWAP is designed to monitor all space-weather-relevant events and features in the low solar corona. Given the limited resources of the PROBA2 microsatellite, the SWAP telescope is designed with various innovative technologies, including an off-axis optical design and a CMOS-APS detector. This article provides reference documentation for users of the SWAP image data.
    Solar Physics 08/2012; 286(1). · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The PROBA2 Science Centre (P2SC) is a small-scale science operations centre supporting the Sun observation instruments onboard PROBA2: the EUV imager Sun Watcher using APS detectors and image Processing (SWAP) and Large-Yield Radiometer (LYRA). PROBA2 is one of ESA's small, low-cost Projects for Onboard Autonomy (PROBA) and part of ESA's In-Orbit Technology Demonstration Programme. The P2SC is hosted at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, co-located with both Principal Investigator teams. The P2SC tasks cover science planning, instrument commanding, instrument monitoring, data processing, support of outreach activities, and distribution of science data products. PROBA missions aim for a high degree of autonomy at mission and system level, including the science operations centre. The autonomy and flexibility of the P2SC is reached by a set of web-based interfaces allowing the operators as well as the instrument teams to monitor quasi-continuously the status of the operations, allowing a quick reaction to solar events. In addition, several new concepts are implemented at instrument, spacecraft, and ground-segment levels allowing a high degree of flexibility in the operations of the instruments. This article explains the key concepts of the P2SC, emphasising the automation and the flexibility achieved in the commanding as well as the data-processing chain.
    Solar Physics 07/2012; · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The existence of coronal plasmoids has been postulated for many years in order to supply material to streamers and possibly to the solar wind (SW). The W-L SoHO C2 Lasco coronagraph observations were made under the 2.2 solar radii (R0) occulting disk to look at the ultimate sources of the SW; EUV imagers are preferably devoted to the analysis of the corona on and very near the solar disk. Here, in addition to eclipse white-light (W-L) snapshots, we used the new SWAP space-borne imager designed for the systematic survey of coronal activity in the EUV lines near 17.4 nm, over a field of view (FOV) up to 2 R0. Using summed and co-aligned images, the corona can then be evaluated for the 1st time up to the limit of this FOV. At the time of the July 11, 2010, solar total eclipse a 20h continuous run of observations was collected, including images taken during eclipse totality from several ground observing locations where W-L data were collected. A plasmoid-like off-limb event was followed using the SWAP summed
    06/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The \textit{Sun Watcher using Active Pixel system detector and Image Processing}(SWAP) on board the \textit{PRoject for OnBoard Autonomy\todash 2} (PROBA\todash 2) spacecraft provides images of the solar corona in EUV channel centered at 174 \AA. These data, together with \textit{Atmospheric Imaging Assembly} (AIA) and the \textit{Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager} (HMI) on board \textit{Solar Dynamics Observatory} (SDO), are used to study the dynamics of coronal bright points. The evolution of the magnetic polarities and associated changes in morphology are studied using magnetograms and multi-wavelength imaging. The morphology of the bright points seen in low-resolution SWAP images and high-resolution AIA images show different structures, whereas the intensity variations with time show similar trends in both SWAP 174 and AIA 171 channels. We observe that bright points are seen in EUV channels corresponding to a magnetic-flux of the order of $10^{18}$ Mx. We find that there exists a good correlation between total emission from the bright point in several UV\todash EUV channels and total unsigned photospheric magnetic flux above certain thresholds. The bright points also show periodic brightenings and we have attempted to find the oscillation periods in bright points and their connection to magnetic flux changes. The observed periods are generally long (10\todash 25 minutes) and there is an indication that the intensity oscillations may be generated by repeated magnetic reconnection.
    Solar Physics 06/2012; 286(1). · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Magnetic reconnection is widely accepted as being associated with energy release during solar flares; however, observations of it have been indirect and/or incomplete. Using the suite of instruments available spanning wavelength space, we provide observations and measurements of both the inputs and outputs predicted from reconnection in the form of inflows preceding outflows (i.e. supra-arcade downflows, supra-arcade downflowing loops, upflows, and disconnection events). We also present evidence for current sheets through which reconnection is expected to occur and discuss current sheet motion during flare progression.
    05/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: We report observations of quasi-periodic pulsations (QPPs) during the X2.2 flare of 2011 February 15, observed simultaneously in several wavebands. We focus on fluctuations on time scale 1-30 s and find different time lags between different wavebands. During the impulsive phase, the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) channels in the range 25-100 keV lead all the other channels. They are followed by the Nobeyama RadioPolarimeters at 9 and 17 GHz and the Extreme Ultra-Violet (EUV) channels of the Euv SpectroPhotometer (ESP) onboard the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO). The Zirconium and Aluminum filter channels of the Large Yield Radiometer (LYRA) onboard the Project for On-Board Autonomy (PROBA2) satellite and the SXR channel of ESP follow. The largest lags occur in observations from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), where the channel at 1-8 {\AA} leads the 0.5-4 {\AA} channel by several seconds. The time lags between the first and last channels is up to 9 s. We identified at least two distinct time intervals during the flare impulsive phase, during which the QPPs were associated with two different sources in the Nobeyama RadioHeliograph at 17 GHz. The radio as well as the hard X-ray channels showed different lags during these two intervals. To our knowledge, this is the first time that time lags are reported between EUV and SXR fluctuations on these time scales. We discuss possible emission mechanisms and interpretations, including flare electron trapping.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 04/2012; 749(1):L16. · 6.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Observations of the early rise and propagation phases of solar eruptive prominences can provide clues about the forces acting on them through the behavior of their acceleration with height. We have analyzed such an event, observed on 13 April 2010 by SWAP on PROBA2 and EUVI on STEREO. A feature at the top of the erupting prominence was identified and tracked in images from the three spacecraft. The triangulation technique was used to derive the true direction of propagation of this feature. The reconstructed points were fitted with two mathematical models: i) a power-law polynomial function and ii) a cubic smoothing spline, in order to derive the accelerations. The first model is characterized by five degrees of freedom while the second one is characterized by ten degrees of freedom. The results show that the acceleration increases smoothly and it is continuously increasing with height. We conclude that the prominence is not accelerated immediately by local reconnection but rather is swept away as part of a large-scale relaxation of the coronal magnetic field.
    Solar Physics 03/2012; 286(1). · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present two-dimensional resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulations of line-tied asymmetric magnetic reconnection in the context of solar flare and coronal mass ejection current sheets. The reconnection process is made asymmetric along the inflow direction by allowing the initial upstream magnetic field strengths and densities to differ, and along the outflow direction by placing the initial perturbation near a conducting wall boundary that represents the photosphere. When the upstream magnetic fields are asymmetric, the post-flare loop structure is distorted into a characteristic skewed candle flame shape. The simulations can thus be used to provide constraints on the reconnection asymmetry in post-flare loops. More hard X-ray emission is expected to occur at the footpoint on the weak magnetic field side because energetic particles are more likely to escape the magnetic mirror there than at the strong magnetic field footpoint. The footpoint on the weak magnetic field side is predicted to move more quickly because of the requirement in two dimensions that equal amounts of flux must be reconnected from each upstream region. The X-line drifts away from the conducting wall in all simulations with asymmetric outflow and into the strong magnetic field region during most of the simulations with asymmetric inflow. There is net plasma flow across the X-line for both the inflow and outflow directions. The reconnection exhaust directed away from the obstructing wall is significantly faster than the exhaust directed towards it. The asymmetric inflow condition allows net vorticity in the rising outflow plasmoid which would appear as rolling motions about the flux rope axis.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2012; 751(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The hierarchical approach to predicting quasi-stationary, high-speed solar wind (SW) streams is described. This approach integrates various types of data into a single forecasting system by means of an ensemble of experts. The input data included the daily values of the coronal hole areas, which were calculated from the ultraviolet images of the Sun, and the speed of the SW streams during the previous solar rotations. The coronal hole areas were calculated from the images taken by the SWAP instrument aboard the PROBA2 satellite in the spectral interval centered at a wavelength of 17.4 nm and by the AIA instrument aboard the SDO spacecraft in the interval of wavelengths centered at 19.3 and 17.1 nm. The forecast was based on the data for 2010, corresponding to the rising phase of the 24th solar cycle. On the first hierarchical level, a few simple model estimates were obtained for the speed of the SW streams from the input data of each type. On the second level of hierarchy, the final 3 day ahead forecast of the SW velocity was formulated on the basis of the obtained estimates. The proposed hierarchical approach improves the accuracy of forecasting the SW velocity. In addition, in such a method of prediction, the data gaps in the records of one instrument do not crucially affect the final result of forecasting of the system as a whole.
    Solar System Research 12/2011; 45(6). · 0.56 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

130 Citations
109.60 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014
    • University of Leuven
      Louvain, Flanders, Belgium
  • 2009–2014
    • Royal Observatory of Belgium
      Bruxelles, Brussels Capital Region, Belgium
  • 2012
    • Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence
      Bruxelles, Brussels Capital Region, Belgium
  • 2008
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      • Division of High Energy Astrophysics
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
    • University of New Hampshire
      Durham, New Hampshire, United States
  • 2001–2002
    • Williams College
      • Department of Astronomy
      Williamstown, New Jersey, United States