Living with a star: The Sun and the aurora

Auroramax
Illustration of disturbances caused by the Sun

"Space weather" refers to changes in the space environment and geomagnetic disturbances caused by eruptions on the Sun. In addition to generating spectacular aurora, space weather and solar storms can have a major impact on human activities—especially technologies on Earth and in space, like satellites. (Credit: SOHO [European Space Agency & NASA])

The beautiful, vibrant auroras we see in the night sky are often fuelled by activities that take place 150 million kilometres away on the Sun, our star.

The Sun churns out a constant stream of charged particles known as the solar wind. Solar storms generate gusts of the solar wind in the solar system.

When these eruptions are directed towards Earth, they can spark Sun-induced auroras: the more active the Sun, the more intense the auroras on Earth.

Science is beautiful