The Astrophysical Journal 702, 862−870, 2009
© The American Astronomical Society

Direct observation of a corotating interaction region by three spacecraft

S.J. Tappin and T.A. Howard
Air Force Research Laboratory, NSO/SP, Sunspot, NM


White-light observations of interplanetary disturbances have been dominated by interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs). This is because the other type of disturbance, corotating interaction regions (CIRs), has proved difficult to detect using white-light imagers. Recently, a number of papers have appeared presenting CIR observations using the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) Heliospheric Imagers (HIs), but have mostly only focused on a single spacecraft and imager. In this paper, we present observations of a single CIR that was observed by all three current white-light heliospheric imagers (SMEI and both STEREO HIs), as well as the in situ instruments on both STEREOs and ACE. We begin with a discussion of the geometry of the CIR structure, and show how the apparent leading edge structure is expected to change as it corotates relative to the observer. We use these calculations to predict elongation–time profiles for CIRs of different speeds for each of the imagers, and also to predict the arrival times at the in situ instruments. We show that although all three measured different parts, they combine to produce a self-consistent picture of the CIR. Finally, we offer some thoughts on why CIRs have proved so difficult to detect in white-light HIs.