Abstract We present a detailed investigation of the evolution of observed net vertical current using a time series of vector magnetograms of the active region (AR) NOAA 11158 obtained from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager. We also discuss the relation of net current to the observed eruptive events. The AR evolved from the βγ to βγδ configuration over a period of six days. The AR had two sub-regions of activity with opposite chirality: one dominated by sunspot rotation producing a strong CME, and the other showing large shear motions producing a strong flare. The net current in each polarity over the CME producing sub-region increased to a maximum and then decreased when the sunspots were separated. The time profile of net current in this sub-region followed the time profile of the rotation rate of the south-polarity sunspot in the same sub-region. The net current in the flaring sub-region showed a sudden increase at the time of the strong flare and remained unchanged until the end of the observation, while the sunspots maintained their close proximity. The systematic evolution of the observed net current is seen to follow the time evolution of total length of strongly sheared polarity inversion lines in both of the sub-regions. The observed photospheric net current could be explained as an inevitable product of the emergence of a twisted flux rope, from a higher pressure confinement below the photosphere into the lower pressure environment of the photosphere.
Keywords Sun:active regions — magnetic fields — activity — coronal mass ejec- tions — non-potentiality — electric current
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