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Solar System Details

Solar Wind Particles

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.

Source Of The Wind

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.

Magnetic Fields

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.

Deflecting The Wind

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.

Next Page on the Solar System.
- Introduction
> Solar Wind
- Heliosphere
- Heliopause
- Asteroid Belt
- Asteroids
- Kuiper Belt
- Comets
- Oort Cloud
- Saturn's Moons


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Keywords for Review

Kinetic Energy: The energy of an object related to the motion of the object. On a simple level, an object that is not moving has no kinetic energy. An object that is moving has some amount of kinetic energy. The more an object moves, the more kinetic energy it has. An object increases its kinetic energy if it accelerates and increases its velocity. For example, as you increase the temperature of a gas, the molecules become more energetic and the system has an overall increase in kinetic energy. Kinetic Energy=(0.5)* mass * (velocity)2

Exothermic: A chemical reaction that releases energy after the reaction is complete. The energy is usually released as heat, but it can also be released as light or sound. On a small scale, a burning candle releases light and heat because of exothermic reactions as the wax burns. On a large scale, an explosion might occur when blasting with sticks of dynamite (TNT).

Activation Energy: The least amount of energy needed for a chemical reaction to occur. Reactions often require some amount of energy to get moving. For example, placing hydrogen and oxygen gases in a container will not give you water. There is a certain amount of energy required to get the first reaction going. Catalysts are substances that help to lower activation energies so that reactions can proceed.

Viscosity: A term used to measure the fluidity of a liquid. As the attractions between the molecules increase, viscosity increases. Fluids with high viscosities don’t flow easily. Some substances such as honey or sap are very slow moving and have high viscosities. Other fluids such as water or mercury (Hg) have very low viscosities.

Volatile: Volatility is the likelihood that a substance will vaporize (become a gas). Volatility measurements are all about comparing two substances. Substances with a higher vapor pressure are more volatile. Alcohol is more volatile than water because it evaporates at a lower temperature.

Reference Materials

Encyclopædia Britannica:

- Cosmos4Kids: Heliosphere
- Chem4Kids: Matter
- Chem4Kids: Astrochemistry
- Chem4Kids: Elements
- Geography4Kids: Earth Energy
- Geography4Kids: Earth Structure
- Geography4Kids: Solar Radiation
- Physics4Kids: Gravity
- Physics4Kids: Acceleration
- Physics4Kids: Magnetic Fields
- Physics4Kids: Light

- NASA: Home Page
- NASA: Kids Home Page
- ESA: Home Page
- ESA: Kids Home Page

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