solar wind
  • noun the stream of particles being driven constantly off the surface of the Sun into interplanetary space, moving at several hundred kilometres per second, and consisting largely of protons and electrons plus a few per cent of alpha particles
  • The stream of particles being driven constantly off the surface of the Sun and into interplanetary space. The Earth is protected from the solar wind by its own atmosphere and its magnetic field. In the outer reaches of the solar system the solar wind becomes indistinguishable from the rest of the interstellar medium. The existence of the solar wind was first surmised from observations of the gyrations of comet tails. The material of the solar wind is moving at several hundred km per second, and consists largely of protons and electrons plus a few per cent of alpha particles.The blizzard of neutrinosconstantly flowing from the Sun is not usually regarded as part of the solar wind.
  • Streams of plasma flowing outward from the sun. The magnetosphere is distorted into a teardrop shape by the solar wind, and the Van Allen radiation belts are composed mostly of protons and electrons which originate from the solar wind which become trapped by the earth's magnetic field. The velocity of such particles is typically around 400 kilometers per second, but during periods of heavy solar activity can exceed 800 kilometers per second.

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