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Accelerating the solar wind

Accelerating the solar wind

Date: 08 July 1999
Satellite: SOHO
Copyright: NASA/Dana Berry, AlliedSignal max Q digital animation group.

These images are from a computer animation illustrating how magnetic waves in the Sun's outer atmosphere (corona) accelerate the solar wind. In the left image, the corona is seen as a feathery yellow ring around the lunar disk during a simulated eclipse, with the Earth in the foreground. Direct light from the Sun outshines the corona by far, so the corona is only visible from Earth during a total solar eclipse, so they can observe the corona continuously.

The waves in the Sun's atmosphere are produced by vibrating solar magnetic field lines, which give solar wind particles a push just like an ocean wave gives a surfer a ride. This is shown in the middle image, with the vibrating magnetic field lines represented by white, wavy lines. The solar wind is made up of electrons and ions, electrically charged atoms that have lost electrons. They are represented here by red and green balls.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
5-Oct-2022 09:32 UT

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