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How does the solar wind move?

The motion of the solar windA stream of charged particles, mostly protons and electrons, that escapes into the Sun's outer atmosphere at high speeds and streams out into the solar system. is very complicated and controlled by electricity and magnetism. The movement of solar wind plasmaPlasma consists of a gas heated to sufficiently high temperatures that the atoms ionize. The properties of the gas are controlled by electromagnetic forces among constituent ions and electrons, which results in a different type of behavior. Plasma is often considered the fourth state of matter (besides solid, liquid, and gas). Most of the matter in the Universe is in the plasma state. is controlled by the Sun's magnetic fields. The charged particles' movements are controlled by the direction of the magnetic fieldA field of force that is generated by electric currents. The Sun's average large-scale magnetic field, like that of the Earth, exhibits a north and a south pole linked by lines of magnetic force. while in the coronaThe outermost region of the Sun's atmosphere, consisting of thin, ionized gases at a temperature of about 1,000,000 K. It is visible to the naked eye during a solar eclipse.. Once outside the corona the charged particles coast into space.

The solar wind is created by the Sun and moves away from the Sun's upper atmosphere. Solar wind is a plasma. Plasma is a highly energetic ionized gas. Moving plasma creates magnetic fields. There are magnetic fields created by the plasma within the Sun and by the solar wind itself. As the solar wind moves away from the Sun, it drags the magnetic field along with it. As the Sun rotates, the magnetic field winds around it like thread on a spool.

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Last Updated: 22 NOVEMBER 2010
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