A region of Earth’s upper atmosphere containing plasma, electrons, charged atoms and molecules. It covers the zone from approximately 85 km (53 mi) to 600 km (370 mi) above Earth’s surface.
Latitude is a measurement of how far north or south a place is from the equator. Lines of constant latitude circle the Earth, parallel to the Equator. In the northern hemisphere, higher latitudes refer to places that are farther north, closer to the North Pole, while lower latitudes refer to places that are farther south, closer to the equator.
A region of space around a magnetic material (such as the Earth’s molten core) or a moving electrical charge, within which the magnetic force acts. The path (or direction) of electrically charged particles is affected by the presence of a magnetic field. Charged particles trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field can be accelerated toward the Earth’s magnetic poles along magnetic field lines. These accelerated particles can collide with the Earth’s atmosphere near the magnetic poles to create an aurora.
(pronounced mag-neat-o-sphere) The magnetic bubble around the Earth. Because it is influenced by the magnetic field of the solar wind, it is squashed on the side of the Earth closest to the Sun and drawn out into a long tail on the other side.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates the Space Weather Prediction Center.
The fourth state of matter; an electrically neutral medium of positive and negative charged particles not bound to each other.
A rhythmic changing of brightness or intensity.
The semi-regular pattern describing the activity of the Sun over time. The pattern repeats roughly every 11 years and has times of stronger and weaker activity.
Sudden release of accelerated particles and tremendously intense electromagnetic radiation (in the form of high energy x-rays and gamma rays, the highest energy photons or particles of light) from the Sun’s surface. Solar flares originate in the active regions around sunspots.
A stream of fast-moving, high temperature particles leaving the Sun’s outermost layer, the corona, in all directions into interplanetary space. The solar wind has an associated magnetic field, known as the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) embedded within it.