Context. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are often observed to be accompanied by flare, current sheets, and plasmoids/plasma blobs. 2D and 3D numerical simulations and observations reported plasmoids moving upward as well as downward along the current sheet.
Aims. We aim to investigate the properties of plasmoids observed in the current sheet formed after an X-8.3 flare and followed by a fast CME eruption on September 10, 2017 using extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) and white-light coronagraph images. The main goal is to understand the evolution of plasmoids in different spatio-temporal scales using existing ground- and space-based instruments.
Methods. We identified the plasmoids manually and tracked them along the current sheet in the successive images of Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) taken at the 131 Å pass band and in running difference images of the white-light coronagraphs, K-Cor and LASCO/C2. The location and size of the plasmoids in each image were recorded and analyzed, covering the current sheet from the inner to outer corona.
Results. We find that the observed current sheet has an Alfvén Mach number of 0.018−0.35. The fast reconnection is also accompanied by plasmoids moving upward and downward. We identified 20 downward-moving and 16 upward-moving plasmoids using AIA 131 Å images. In white-light coronagraph images, only upward-moving plasmoids are observed. Our analysis shows that the downward-moving plasmoids have an average width of 5.92 Mm, whereas upward-moving blobs have an average size of 5.65 Mm in the AIA field of view (FOV). The upward-moving plasmoids, when observed in the white-light images, have an average width of 64 Mm in the K-Cor, which evolves to a mean width of 510 Mm in the LASCO/C2 FOV. Upon tracking the plasmoids in successive images, we find that downward- and upward-moving plasmoids have average speeds of ∼272 km s −1 and ∼191 km s −1 , respectively in the EUV channels of observation. The average speed of plasmoids increases to ∼671 km s −1 and ∼1080 km s −1 in the K-Cor and LASCO/C2 FOVs, respectively, implying that the plasmoids become super-Alfvénic when they propagate outward. The downward-moving plasmoids show an acceleration in the range of −11 km s −1 to over 8 km s −1 . We also find that the null point of the current sheet is located at ≈1.15 R ⊙ , where bidirectional plasmoid motion is observed.
Conclusions. The width distribution of plasmoids formed during the reconnection process is governed by a power law with an index of −1.12. Unlike previous studies, there is no difference in trend for small- and large-scale plasmoids. The evolution of width W of the plasmoids moving at an average speed V along the current sheet is governed by an empirical relation: V = 115.69 W 0.37 . The presence of accelerating plasmoids near the neutral point indicates a longer diffusion region as predicted by MHD models.