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Large amounts of plasma (consisting of mostly electrons and protons) ejected from the sun.
Gamma-Ray Bursts
Short bursts of gamma-rays (very high frequency electromagentic radiation) with very energetic explosions. These bursts can last from a few milliseconds to a few about an hour.
Geomagnetic Storms
A disturbance in the Earth's magnetosphere caused by changes in space weather such as solar erutptions.
The region around the sun that is filled with the Sun's gases, solar winds, and magentic fields.
The magnetic field produced by the Sun that is carried through by solar winds.
The uppermost part of the atmosphere. It also forms the inner surface of the magnetosphere and is reponsible for radio communication between distant places on Earth.
Lagrangian Point
Equilibrium points in space where the gravitational pull by a massive body is equal to that of another body.
Forms when a stream of charged particles, such as a solar wind, interacts with the magnetic field of a planet.
The surface of the sun that you see.
Solar Eruptions
These are sudden intense bursts of energy in the sun. They may develop in a few minutes and last for several hours.
Solar Wind
A constant stream pf charged particles, such as electrons and protons, that are continuously ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun.
Suprathermal Ions
Ions, charged particles, that have more energy than similar particles of the same type.

Can’t find the word here? Check out our full glossary

Solar Wind Science - 1

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Overview of the solar wind

There are many scientists who want to understand more about the Sun. They know that the Sun is a fiery ball of gas that gets so hot that gas flies out from the Sun at very high speeds. Many of the electrons in the Sun’s atoms have enough energy to leave the atoms. These new particles are called ions. These ions and electrons are flowing from the Sun and together they are known as the solar wind. The ions and electrons dance in the Sun’s magnetic field. Scientists discovered that the solar wind and its magnetic field flow together out past Mercury, past Earth, and continue out past Pluto. Because the magnetic field is threaded throughout the solar system, we call it the interplanetary magnetic field, that is the magnetic field found between (inter) the planets (planetary).

What is the Sun?

Black background with a yellow circle, Sun, filling up most of the page. There are small black spots on the circle, Sun spots. Blue background with a black circle at the center with diameter of 1/3 of the picture. Around the circle are white, wind-like, patterns.

What is the Solar Wind

The Sun is so hot, its outer layers cannot be held in place by the Sun’s immense gravity, thus the Sun is constantly losing its atmosphere as it flows away into space. The solar wind is a constant output of highly charged particles from the Sun. These particles are electrified and magnetic.

  • Constant flow of charged particles and magnetic field away from Sun.
  • Magnetic field doesn't "flow" towards Earth; it expands outward from the Sun
  • Takes the solar wind 1 to 3 days to travel to Earth.

Black background with a section of a red glowing disk showing on the left fourth of the screen. There are wispy strands of lines emiting radially away from the disk.

Animation of the solar wind (.avi, 1.01MB)

Last updated 01/25/2010 © UC Regents