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Transcript of Solar Wind
What is Solar Wind
The 4th state of matter
Basically plasma an ionized gas which contains sufficient energy to free electrons from their atoms
Plasma is the most common state of matter in the entire universe even though it was the last state discovered
Because plasma contains electrically charged particles it obviously effects electromagnetic fields.
Plasmas is found in the sun's corona and solar wind, in the magnetosphere of the Earth and other planets, in tails of comets and in the accretion disks around black holes.
Examples on Earth: nuclear fusion reactor and a candle flame
A magnetic field is the area of influence exerted by a magnetic force.
This field is usually focused around 2 poles and when the area of influence is divided you get a smaller, weaker magnetic fields with 2 poles.
Magnetic fields are the result of electrical currents.
Without an electric field you can't have a magnetic field.
Earth's magnetic field, called the magnetosphere helps protect us from cosmic radiation such as solar wind.
The Layers of the Sun
It is the plasma of charged particles coming out the sun's corona at speeds of over one million miles per hour(which is still way slower than the speed of light)
It is responsible for the anti-sunward tails of comets and the shape of the magnetic fields of planets
The reason for solar wind is that the temperatures in corona are too high for the gravity of the sun to capture
Heat is mostly produced in coronal holes
It has a temperature of millions of degrees but it is 10 billion times less dense than the atmosphere of Earth at sea level
In the poles of the sun, the magnetic lines are open this allows coronal gas to flow into space as solar wind
But Solar wind is not only created in the corona
In fact solar wind is basically considered an extension of the sun's atmosphere. It is caused because the expression of the sun exceeds the power of gravity. So excess particles speed into interplanetary space
There are 2 types of solar wind: Fast and Slow
Fast Wind is created in the poles where there is a weak magnetic field that cannot prevent the escape of the particles
Slow Wind is created close to the "equator" of the sun where there is a strong magnetic field that can prevent the escape of most particles and those that do escape have less velocity and are cooler.
As you get further and further form the sun, the ions that make up solar wind get faster and faster and
Surface Temp of Sun: 6,000C
Temperature of Corona: 1,000,000
Solar wind is not uniform it changes speed while interacting with magnetic clouds and regions where high speed wind catches up with slow speed wind.
The Northern Lights or aurora borealis are caused when solar wind hits Earth's ionosphere. The particles in Earth's atmosphere get excited in the collision. To return to their normal state these particles must release energy, this release of energy is seen as a burst of color.
Minor solar storms create the Northern lights
The sun goes through faces of high and low solar activity
Solar storms occur as a result of events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These events create massive amounts of solar wind that can slam into the Earth's magnetic field in a few hours.
The collision can generate quite a light show as a geomagnetic storm erupts, and the storm can last for several days under the right conditions.
The storm can do much more than create a bunch of pretty lights. It could knock out the electricity grids, which would have very serious consequences, and it would be necessary to replace large portions of the grids.
Storms can also disrupt communications and very dangerous for astronauts that are in the way of the solar wind.
Doesn't the temperature decrease as you get further away from the heat source?
Temperature does decrease as distance form the heat source increases but just not in the corona. The nature of the processes that heat the corona, maintain those temperatures, and accelerate solar wind constitute the third solar mystery. So scientists still don't know why this happens.
The sun's activity shifts over the course of its 11-year cycle. This effects the properties of the solar wind, including its magnetic field properties, velocity, temperature and density. The wind also differs based on where on the sun it comes from and how quickly that portion is rotating.
And off course an higher level of solar activity would create higher amounts of solar wind
What about Now
Heat is produced in the corona of course, but most of the heat that goes into the sun's atmosphere comes from the core.
Coronal holes are regions where the corona is dark. Coronal holes are associated with "open" magnetic field lines and are often found at the Sun's poles.
According to the internet definition a solar storm is a violent outburst of explosive activity on the Sun.
On January 9 2014 a “strong” geomagnetic storm caused navigation and communication problems for satellites, and planes in polar regions. Reporters claimed that the storm would affect GPS navigation systems and satellite radio. During that day airlines avoided polar routes to keep passengers and crew safe radiation. The storm was only a level 3 in a scale that goes up to 5. So its is not surprising that you probably didn't hear about it.