"We have extended in 3D the standard model of solar flares that has been, and still is, used to explain solar eruptive flares," Janvier told Space.com by email regarding his earlier research. "All in all, we are just completing pieces of the puzzle."
Janvier also served as an author on Dudik's research examining the explosive flare. This was the first time the slipping motion had been seen in a solar flare.
Scientists can't observe the sun's magnetic field lines directly, because they are theoretical lines of force.
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"However, it is possible to trace them with the material trapped in the magnetic field, similar to iron fillings you can put near a magnet," Janvier said. "One can observe the evolution of the solar corona's magnetic field by looking at the motion of the plasma trapped in the magnetic field."
Magnetic field lines on the sun start off smooth, stretching between two points on the visible surface known as field line footprints. As powerful convection currents rise and fall beneath them, the footprints move about, causing the field lines to twist and entangle in regions known as flux ropes.