Solar Sector Boundary Crossing

Hang on for a lesson in solar dynamics – Earth is experiencing a solar sector boundary crossing. Let me explain….

The sun produces wind (currently 410.9 Km/second) that blasts across the cosmos. Just like Earth, our Sun has a magnetic field – known as the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF).Β  Whipped into a spiral rotation, wind driven IMF rotates in one direction. It divides into spiral sections pointing to and away from the sun along the ecliptic plane ( a direct line between Earth and the Sun). The edge of this swirling mass has a surface separating polarities of planetary and solar magnetism called the heliosphere current sheet.

Earth’s magnetic field points north at the magnetopause (the point of contact between our magnetosphere and the IMF). If the IMF happens to point south at contact (scientific term, southward Bz) the two fields link causing partial cancellation of Earth’s magnetic field – in other words, opening a temporary door for solar energy to enter our atmosphere. Welcome solar sector boundary crossing – a phenomenon born of high solar wind and coronal mass ejections (CME’s – aka solar flares).

It takes 3 or 4 days for magnetism to sort itself out – in the meantime, and barring the occasional high frequency radio disruption,Β  wonky GPS and cell phones, peppered with sudden power grid failure events – we’re treated to kick ass auroras.

9 thoughts on “Solar Sector Boundary Crossing

  1. Notes, you are an awesome teacher. I once met an expert in northern lights in Finland and after one hour of presentations, I was none the wise (other than that the speaker was an introvert who spend most of his time in a little hut in the arctic).

    You on the other hand have made me a wiser man in 3 minutes. Nice.

    • Oh man, you have me blushing πŸ™‚ hearing that from you just made my day.Most people consider me a babbling lunatic when my “space button” is pushed.

      I’ve described auroras as cosmic maidens luring unsuspecting travelers into their arms. I attempt to ignite “wonder” and awe by stringing together poetic testament to their power.Sometimes with fervor,that so thoroughly disarms unprepared recipients, I stop myself mid sentence when their WTF is she talking about pleas register.Sigh.

      If I can’t “wow” with wonder, the least I can do is explain where the source of my exuberance comes from πŸ™‚

  2. Pingback: Quora

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