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what is space weather?

 

Alex

Space weather describes the interaction between the Sun and Earth. Storms on the Sun can produce bursts of charged particles. These shoot out into space, and sometimes end up hitting the Earth. The effects of solar storms can be as beautiful as an aurora, or can cause damage to satellites and health risks to astronauts and aircraft crews. Alex and Steve here, we'll tell you more.

Steve
 
 

 

Our modern lifestyle depends heavily on space technology, for example for TV and mobile phone communications. We cannot prevent solar storms, but we can monitor the Sun and give some warning when stormy weather is approaching the Earth. Hopefully, appropriate action can be taken to limit any damage.

 

What is a solar storm?

 

A solar storm is a sudden burst of very fast charged particles from the Sun. It could be the result of a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection (CME) or both.

 

Here is a movie of a CME shooting out from the Sun and showing the "snowstorm" of energetic particles which hit SOHO. mouse over arrow

   
You can see more movies in our Gallery [Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]   Space Weather  
     
     

What is a space storm?

   

The wind on Earth is always changing; sometimes it's a gentle breeze, at other times it can be blowing a gale. In the same way, the Sun's wind varies a lot. The solar wind normally races along at about 450 km/s, but it can gust at up to 1,700 km/s or more if there is a powerful coronal mass ejection passing by. This is what space weather experts call a space storm.

 
     

What is a geomagnetic storm?

   

A geomagnetic storm is a disturbance in the Earth's magnetic field. This can be caused by sudden changes in the solar wind. These could be caused by a solar flare, coronal mass ejection or by a shock wave in the solar wind.

 
The wind blowing out from the Sun reaches the Earth and thanks to the magnet field the Earth stays protected The wind blowing out from the Sun reaches the Earth, and thanks to the magnetic field the Earth stays protected.

 

   

 

   
 
 

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