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Did you know that the Earth is constantly bombarded with pieces from the Sun? They aren't rocks and flames. The Sun is sending very small particles (usually protons and electrons) into the Solar System. Those particles are called the solar wind. The flow of particles doesn't just go to Earth. The particles hit all of the planets in the Solar System and create an envelope that protects the system.


The Sun is burning with millions of fusion reactions every second. These reactions superheat the gases surrounding the star and create plasma. When a volcano explodes tons of ash is sent into the sky. The same thing happens on the Sun. The Sun is blasting its plasma out into the Solar System. The speed of the particles depends on how active the Sun is. The particles could move at over a hundred thousand miles in a second.


Electricity and magnetism are closely related. Charged particles can hold both an electric current and create a magnetic field. The charged particles given off by the Sun also hold a magnetic field. The particles stretch the magnetic field of the Sun around the planets. Astronomers call it the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). You also know the Sun spins. The IMF looks like a spiral (called the Parker Spiral) because of the Sun's rotation.


If you are a planet or moon with no magnetic field, the solar wind will hit you directly. That's what happens on the Moon. All of these charged particles are constantly hitting the surface that faces the Sun. If you are a planet that has a magnetic field like Jupiter or the Earth, the solar wind will be deflected. You can even see the interaction between our magnetic field and the solar winds when auroras are created. The most famous are in the northern hemisphere and called the aurora borealis. Auroras also appear on other planets with magnetic fields.

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