Solar wind

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Solar wind consists of particles, usually electrons and protons, continually streaming away from the corona of the Sun.[1] The solar wind has a magnetic field effect on cosmic rays and thus on cloud coverage.[2]

The solar wind creates the Heliosphere, a bubble in the interstellar medium surrounding the solar system.[3] Solar wind also creates the aurora or "Northern Lights", and causes the tails of comets to always point away from the sun.

The solar wind is extremely sparse, containing only a few fast moving particles per cubic centimeter at the Earth. Normally by the time it reaches Earth, it is composed of around 1-10 protons per cubic centrimeter.[1] These travel extremely quickly, at 350-700 km/s.[1] However during solar flares, the proton flux and velocity increases greatly. The exact geometry and extent of the solar wind is not well known.

Effect on the earth's clouds

  • Svensmark and Friis-Christensen (1997) have shown that global cloud cover, observed by satellites, is linked to the strength of galactic cosmic rays modulated by the solar wind (r = 0.95).[4]

See also