Solar winds have recently been one of the primary reasons behind dangerous solar storms on Earth. But what exactly are they? NASA reveals the truth.
A couple of weeks ago, a strange incident took place. In a horrifying development, the Earth’s magnetic field was cracked open and solar radiation and magnetic flux rushed inside and caused an unexpected and dangerous solar storm. NASA later explained the event to be Co-rotating Interaction Regions (CIR). These CIR are caused when stunningly fast moving solar winds from different directions strike the Earth, stretching apart its magnetic field and creating cracks on it. Making our planet vulnerable to solar storms, these frightful solar winds are more than dangerous. But what exactly are they and how are they contributing to the solar storm problem on Earth? Find out, the answer will open your mind to unnerving new information.
It should be noted that solar winds are not dangerous just for causing the CIR effect. Two out of the last three solar storms that occurred on the Earth were all brought on by solar winds and they not only accelerated the timeline for the hit on Earth but also made it far worse. They play an important role in bringing solar storms to our planet. But unlike the term itself, they are not really “wind”, as air does not exist in space. Solar winds are just solar plasma in a state of high motion. Let us take a closer look.
What are solar winds
According to a NASA post, solar winds are the outward expansion of plasma from the Sun’s corona (outermost atmosphere). You can imagine them to be a semi gaseous object that has a strong magnetic field. As it heats up due to the constant nuclear fusion on the Sun, the gravity of the star fails to hold it to the ground. Now where does it go then? We all know that the Sun completes one rotation around its axis in 27 days, which is a very high speed compared to its size. As it rotates, the plasma gets accumulated towards the polar region of the Sun.
The polar region of the Sun is where the outwardly moving magnetic field lines exist and it surrounds the Sun in a sheath of plasma. But as solar wind projects further and further it spreads itself thin and can no longer resist the inward push of interstellar space medium. As it gets pushed too far, it causes a shockwave called termination shock, it gets flung out and because of its speed and moving pattern, it has been termed solar wind.
How do solar winds cause solar storm
Solar winds do not directly cause solar storms. As explained above, sometimes they weaken the Earth’s magnetic field to make it easier for weaker coronal mass ejections (CME) to enter the lower atmosphere of Earth and cause an intense storm. One other way these winds help solar storms to become more lethal is by using its own speed to accelerate the CME. And since solar winds contain magnetic charges of their own, it intensifies the CME at the same time, causing more powerful solar storms on Earth.