‘Solar Winds’, as the name suggests – are not just winds that will blow over the earth’s surface and goes away. They are far more dangerous than they sound. They are powerful enough to destroy everything that man has made.
If you haven’t heard or read about solar winds before, this article is a must-read for you because today, I will let you know everything you need to know about solar winds.
What Are Solar Winds?
Solar winds are the fourth form of matter – the plasma. They are a stream of charged particles – including protons, electrons, and other alpha particles.
The upper atmosphere of the sun’s surface – corona releases the charged particles that combine with hot winds. They move with kinetic energy varying between 0.5 KeV to 10 KeV.
The charged particles from the sun’s upper atmosphere have a very high temperature because of the high temperature of the corona – the upper atmosphere or sun’s surface. Due to this, the charged particles escape from the sun into space. The high temperature of the corona is because of the coronal magnetic field.
It was during the early 1850s. A scientist named Richard Carrington, while conducting his astronomical studies observed the sun emitting the charged particles.
While he was observing the sun, he suddenly saw the brightness increasing at one place over the sun. He termed it as flare and during the observations, he saw the ejection of charged particles and the very next day, a geomagnetic storm was observed.
Although no one at that stage understood the phenomenon, the researchers and scientists started to study about the same and during the early 1900s, British astrophysicists who go by name Arthur Eddington confirmed the presence of solar winds. Even then, he did not coin the term solar wind.
Arthur defined solar winds based on the observations he made during his study. He confirmed that the external atmospheric layer of the sun – corona emits charged particles. He stated that it is because of the extremely high temperature of the coronal layer.
Based on the speed of movement, they are classified into two categories – Fast solar wind and slow solar wind.
Fast Solar Wind
When it is the closest to Earth’s surface, the fast solar winds can travel at speeds up to 750 km/s. The speeds are much more than enough to destroy everything that comes across its way.
If we consider the temperature of the fast ones, it can be as high as the sun’s layer of the atmosphere called the photosphere. In specifics, the temperature can reach up to 8×105 K.
Slow Solar Wind
When it is the closest to Earth’s surface, the slow solar winds can travel at a relatively lower speed of up to 300 to 500 m/s. Though the speeds are not as high as the speeds of fast solar winds, they are powerful enough to tackle everything that comes across its way.
Comparing to earth’s standards, these speeds are much higher. The temperature of solar winds can reach up to 1.4 to 1.6×106 K.
Should You Worry?
If this is the question that comes into your mind, you need not worry! The earth’s magnetic field is strong enough to deflect all kinds of solar winds. The chances of solar fields reaching the earth’s atmosphere are meager and humans are safe from these winds.