Coronal Mass Ejections:
Models and Their Observational Basis

P. F. Chen 
Department of Astronomy, Nanjing University
Nanjing 210093, China

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Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are the largest-scale eruptive phenomenon in the solar system, expanding from active region-sized nonpotential magnetic structure to a much larger size. The bulk of plasma with a mass of ∼ 1011 – 1013 kg is hauled up all the way out to the interplanetary space with a typical velocity of several hundred or even more than 1000 km s–1, with a chance to impact our Earth, resulting in hazardous space weather conditions. They involve many other much smaller-sized solar eruptive phenomena, such as X-ray sigmoids, filament/prominence eruptions, solar flares, plasma heating and radiation, particle acceleration, EIT waves, EUV dimmings, Moreton waves, solar radio bursts, and so on. It is believed that, by shedding the accumulating magnetic energy and helicity, they complete the last link in the chain of the cycling of the solar magnetic field. In this review, I try to explicate our understanding on each stage of the fantastic phenomenon, including their pre-eruption structure, their triggering mechanisms and the precursors indicating the initiation process, their acceleration and propagation. Particular attention is paid to clarify some hot debates, e.g., whether magnetic reconnection is necessary for the eruption, whether there are two types of CMEs, how the CME frontal loop is formed, and whether halo CMEs are special.

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