• The Sun occasionally hurls a colossal amount of energy into space. Solar radiation storms occur when processes at or near the Sun accelerate large quantities of charged particles, protons, and electrons. These Coronal mass ejections, called CMEs, are large clouds of plasma and magnetic field that erupt from the Sun. Options are called solar flares, which last for mere minutes and can trigger catastrophic blackouts and dazzling auroras on Earth. At the heart of these outbursts is a mechanism that converts magnetic energy into powerful blasts of light and particles. This transformation is catalyzed by magnetic reconnection, in which colliding magnetic fields break and instantly realign, slingshotting material into the cosmos. In addition to powering solar flares, reconnection may power the speedy, high-energy particles ejected by exploding stars, the glow of jets from black holes, and the wind blown by the Sun. Microphysical details of reconnection could help researchers build better models of these energetic eruptions and make sense of cosmic tantrums.
  • Magnetic reconnection taps into the stored energy of the magnetic field, converting it into heat and kinetic energy that sends particles streaming out along the field lines. Reconnection can abruptly convert the energy stored in magnetic fields to point in charged particles, power diverse phenomena such as solar and stellar flares, magnetic storms, and aurorae in near-Earth space, and significant disruptions in magnetically confined fusion devices.
  • Solar magnetic activity, including flares, can eject high-energy charged particles into space. A solar storm can destroy all the satellites around the Earth, knock out power grids, and all forms of communications, even the Internet. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are large plasma and magnetic field expulsions from the Sun’s corona. They can eject billions of tons of coronal material and carry an embedded magnetic field (frozen in flux) more potent than the background solar wind interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) strength. Ar flares near sunspots are believed to be powered by magnetic reconnection.
  • Ts rely on a magnetosphere as protection against atmospheric loss due to sputtering from the solar winds.
    A solar storm took place in 1859 and devastated the telegraph system on Earth, setting off fires and shocking some telegraph operators. Today’s similar-strength solar storm would cause more damage, destroy our satellites, and cause an internet apocalypse.
    A magnetized soup is made up of individual particles. The Earth’s magnetic field is weak but strong enough to keep out dangerous radiation from the Sun, which makes life on Earth possible. Without the Earth’s magnetic shield, atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere could become so energized by high-energy particles in the solar wind that they attain escape velocity and are gone. Once our planet’s circulating currents have died away, the induced magnetic field similarly fades away along with our atmosphere.