What Can Solar Wind actually do?

What Can Solar Wind actually do?

We generally don’t realize how dangerous Solar winds are but they can cause a lot of havoc.

What are these solar winds which pose threat to not only Earth’s surface but other space entities? According to sciencing.com, Solar winds are geomagnetic storms that are formed by charged particles emanated by the outer atmosphere of the Sun known as Corona. Detonations known as Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections fulminate in the sun’s hot atmosphere releasing light and high energy particles out into space which takes its temperature to about 1.1 million degrees Celsius. At this level, the sun’s gravity can’t hold on to the rapidly moving particles. As a result, it constantly releasing a stream of charged particles known as the ‘Solar Wind’.

As we observe a change in the sun’s activities in its 11-year cycle, the radiation levels, sunspot numbers, and exuded material also varies. These transmutations affect the properties of the solar wind, including its magnetic field, velocity, temperature, and density. The wind also varies based on where on the sun it comes from and how swiftly that portion is encircling. While the velocity of the solar wind is higher over coronal holes which can go up to 500 miles per second, the temperature and density over coronal holes are minimal, and the magnetic field is weak, so the field lines are open to space. When the solar activities are at nominal level, these coronal holes are created at poles and low latitudes reaching their pinnacle.

Temperatures in the fast wind can reach up to 800,000o C. At the coronal streamer belt around the equator, the solar wind travels more slowly, at around 200 miles per second. Temperatures in the slow wind reach up to 1600000o C.

We do know that these strong swift threat-posing solar winds are deflected by magnetic fields of every planet. The Earth’s appropriate position in the solar system, away from the sun, keeps them at length. Planets positioned closer to the sun experience considerable degeneration of the magnetic field through the power of solar winds. The solar wind affects Earth’s atmosphere by the intense clouds of high energy particles.

When these clouds, called Coronal Mass Ejections, make their way to the Earth in 3 to 4 days, they collide with the magnetic field of the Earth and cause it to change its shape. The particles then leak through the magnetic field of the Earth, particularly near the North and the South poles. This causes more change to the magnetic field of the Earth and this time it affects even lower altitudes which are much closer to the ground.

These changes can produce many problems with the Electrical Equipment. In the opposite direction of the Sun, the Earth’s magnetic field is pulled way out into interplanetary space making it look like a comet. In this ‘Geotail’ region, many different electrical disturbances take place that can accelerate particles to very 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 from time to time.

The effects of solar winds on the Earth that are visible to the naked eye are the Aurora Borealis (the Northern lights) at the North Pole and the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights) at the South Pole. Another effect that we may observe through the naked eye is the fiery tail which is attached to comets.

We endure the effects of solar winds on Earth today because of the number of communication satellites in outer space. The magnetic field of Sun distorts and even extirpates the functioning of communication satellites. If astronauts and cosmonauts get trapped in the solar winds’ path, they are subjected to dire radiation-related health conditions such as Chromosome Damage and Cancer. Most of the times, they are fatal in outer space.

Radio communication and Satellite-based Internet services are distorted by solar winds. Similarly, Military satellites are adversely affected by solar winds. Geomagnetic storms caused by solar winds are very strong and can consolidate or annihilate power grids. All navigational as well as communicational systems, especially vessels at sea, are inimically affected by them. Aircraft communications and instruments in the aircraft will be prone to faulty functioning during geomagnetic storms. Last but not the least, satellite communication on earth and the occasional geomagnetic storm near the poles are the main disruptive effects caused by solar winds on planet Earth.

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