Observational and numerical studies have shown that the kinematic characteristics of two or more coronal mass ejections (CMEs) may change significantly after a CME collision. The collision of CMEs can have a different nature, i.e. inelastic, elastic, and superelastic processes, depending on their initial kinematic characteristics. In this article, we first review the existing definitions of collision types including Newton’s classical definition, the energy definition, Poisson’s definition, and Stronge’s definition, of which the first two were used in the studies of CME–CME collisions. Then, we review the recent research progresses on the nature of CME–CME collisions with the focus on which CME kinematic properties affect the collision nature. It is shown that observational analysis and numerical simulations can both yield an inelastic, perfectly inelastic, merging-like collision, or a high possibility of a superelastic collision. Meanwhile, previous studies based on a 3D collision picture suggested that a low approaching speed of two CMEs is favorable for a superelastic nature. Since CMEs are an expanding magnetized plasma structure, the CME collision process is quite complex, and we discuss this complexity. Moreover, the models used in both observational and numerical studies contain many limitations. All of the previous studies on collisions have not shown the separation of two colliding CMEs after a collision. Therefore the collision between CMEs cannot be considered as an ideal process in the context of a classical Newtonian definition. In addition, many factors are not considered in either observational analysis or numerical studies, e.g. CME-driven shocks and magnetic reconnections. Owing to the complexity of the CME collision process, a more detailed and in-depth observational analysis and simulation work are needed to fully understand the CME collision process.
Solar Physics – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 2, 2017
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