Educational Questions & Answers

How does the solar wind affect Earth?

Solar wind contains intense clouds of high energy particles which are produced by solar storms. These clouds of particles affect Earth. These clouds are called coronal mass ejections. They reach the earth in three to four days. The coronal mass ejections cause changes in the magnetic field of the earth when they collide with the field.

They cause more changes to the magnetic field at times even at lower altitudes close to the ground when they leak through the field especially near the north and south poles. These changes can produce many problems with electrical equipment.

Not much light has been thrown on the way in which solar wind `plasma' invades the Earth's magnetic field and seeps into the inner regions where the van Allen radiation belts are located.

Also, in the direction opposite the Sun, the Earth's magnetic field is pulled way out into interplanetary space making it look like a comet. Many different electrical disturbances take place in this `geotail' region.

These can accelerate particles to high speeds and energies. All of this is made much more violent by the solar wind, especially the storm clouds that the Sun launches our way very often

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How does the solar wind affect Earth?