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Space Weather: Storms from the Sun

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Will future generations check space weather the same way that we check Earth weather? We’re already paying attention to solar flares, CMEs (coronal mass ejections), high-speed solar winds, and solar energetic particles in the news. With so many sensitive satellites in orbit, as well as power and communications systems at risk of disruption, it makes sense that we might start paying regular attention to space weather.

From the American Museum of Natural History, this is Space Weather: Storms from the Sun.

solar storms

Space weather is direct product of our local star, the Sun. The Sun continuously sheds its skin, blowing a fierce wind of charged particles in all directions, including Earth’s. From time to time, storms on the Sun’s surface—solar flares, coronal mass ejections—toss off added masses of energy and ions. When that turbulence slams into Earth, it produces space weather. The consequences can be spectacular, from colorful auroras to satellite, power and communications failures.

Space weather isn’t new: the Sun has buffeted Earth with solar particles since the planet first formed. What has changed is society. This feature reveals how our increasing use of satellite technology has made us vulnerable to solar storms, and how solar scientists—“space weathermen”—are learning how to predict and forecast the Sun’s activity.

space weather
Related watching: auroras and more from AMNH.

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