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The Origin of the Solar Wind

A novel way of looking at the solar corona reveals a hidden "imprint" of the Sun

Richard Woo, Shadia Habbal

Figure 5. Traditional view of the solar wind's origins . . .Click to Enlarge ImageFigure 2. Coronal holes . . .Click to Enlarge Image

Nearly 1,400 years ago, Chinese astronomers noticed that comet tails always point away from the Sun. They concluded that the Sun must have chi—a basic life force—that blows the tails away. It wasn't until the middle of the 20th century that scientists understood that this "force" actually consisted of little pieces of the sun itself—protons and electrons—blowing out into the solar system as a "wind" at more than a million kilometers per hour. The traditional view of the solar wind's origins suggests that it originates from special regions on the Sun, called coronal holes. Woo and Habbal present new evidence showing that the wind actually emanates from all regions on the Sun.


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