Space Weather: The Solar Perspective

Rainer Schwenn  
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnenystemforschung,
D-37191 Katlenburg-Lindau,

This article has been revised on 16 June 2010 (see changes in detail).


The term space weather refers to conditions on the Sun and in the solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere that can influence the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based technological systems and that can affect human life and health. Our modern hi-tech society has become increasingly vulnerable to disturbances from outside the Earth system, in particular to those initiated by explosive events on the Sun: Flares release flashes of radiation that can heat up the terrestrial atmosphere such that satellites are slowed down and drop into lower orbits, solar energetic particles accelerated to near-relativistic energies may endanger astronauts traveling through interplanetary space, and coronal mass ejections are gigantic clouds of ionized gas ejected into interplanetary space that after a few hours or days may hit the Earth and cause geomagnetic storms. In this review, I describe the several chains of actions originating in our parent star, the Sun, that affect Earth, with particular attention to the solar phenomena and the subsequent effects in interplanetary space.

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