What is plasma? What are solar winds and solar flares? How do solar storms happen?
“Although it’s mostly hydrogen gas, the sun makes up 99.8% of our solar system’s entire mass, and this creates enormous internal forces,” explains this fascinating Catalyst video from ABC Science. Solar physicist Dr. Hannah Schunker continues:
“The mass of the sun is so large that the force of gravity at the center causes pressure that’s so high that it can fuse hydrogen. And when this hydrogen is fusing it releases energy. But this can also release electrons and these charged particles are then free within the gas of the sun and this is what we call a plasma.”
Learn how this plasma escapes the sun in different forms—as a harmless solar wind and as more destructive bursts of energized particles and magnetic fields called coronal mass ejections or CMEs. As NASA explains, “the resulting impacts are what we call space weather.”
• The Heliopedia: Infographics & definitions from NASA
• NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center
• What is space weather? from NASA’s Space Place for kids
Watch more videos about the sun and solar flares:
• Space Weather: Storms from the Sun
• Magnificent Solar Eruption in Full HD
• The sun, our closest star, in a stunning 4K time-lapse animation
• How the Aurora Borealis is created
• The Science and Beauty of Auroras
Bonus: Hisako Koyama, the woman who stared at the sun.
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