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Glossary

  • altitude

    The height in the atmosphere as measured from the mean sea level.

    Sep 15, 2014 03:23PM UTC
  • aurora

    An atmospheric phenomenon appearing as streamers or bands of light sometimes visible in the night sky, particularly in the northern or southern regions of the Earth. It is caused by charged particles from near Earth space following the Earth’s magnetic field and colliding with atoms and molecules in the atmosphere. The aurora responds to the strength of the solar wind and can strengthen during geomagnetic storms.

    Oct 20, 2014 08:04PM UTC
  • auroral oval

    A narrow region or band around the Earth where aurora are most likely to occur. Both the northern and southern hemispheres have an auroral oval, and they are centered on the north and south magnetic poles. The ovals expand in width and toward lower latitudes during geomagnetic storms.

    Oct 20, 2014 08:05PM UTC
  • corona

    The very hot, outer atmosphere of the Sun.

    Sep 15, 2014 03:40PM UTC
  • coronal mass ejection (CME)

    A massive blast of magnetized plasma that creates a disturbance moving outward from the Sun’s hot, outer atmosphere (corona) through the solar wind.

    Oct 20, 2014 08:06PM UTC
  • diffuse

    Widely spread over a large area and having poorly distinguished edges.

    Oct 20, 2014 08:06PM UTC
  • discrete

    Distinct, with well defined edges.

    Oct 20, 2014 08:07PM UTC
  • equinox

    The time, twice a year, when the length of daylight and nighttime are equal for all places on Earth. This occurs around March 21 and September 22. During an equinox, the plane through Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun.

    Aug 27, 2014 05:41PM UTC
  • geomagnetic storm

    A disturbance of the protective, magnetic bubble around the Earth (the magnetosphere). The disruption can be caused by a dramatic increase in the solar wind, due to a coronal mass ejection.

    Oct 20, 2014 08:07PM UTC
  • interplanetary magnetic field

    As the Sun emits the constant stream of plasma known as the solar wind, part of its magnetic field becomes trapped and is carried by the wind. This magnetic field travels out into interplanetary space with the solar wind and is known as the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). Its orientation (direction) is important in the formation of geomagnetic storms.

    Sep 15, 2014 04:10PM UTC
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