Friday, 03 July 2020

Cafe Scientific, Henley

CAFÉ Scientific Henley presents “The solar wind”.

Space is not empty. Instead, the regions between the sun and the planets are filled by a constantly blowing stream of material, the solar wind.

This is plasma, the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid and gas, and its fluid behaviour is modified by electric and magnetic fields.

The temperature of the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, is one million degrees, much hotter than its visible surface (6,000 degrees). The ions and electrons can escape the sun’s huge gravity and expand supersonically into the solar system, interacting with anything in the way, such as planets, comets and asteroids, until it reaches interstellar space.

Here, we will discuss the discovery of the solar wind, and discuss the effects it has, such as aurora and “space weather” at the earth and at other magnetised planets.

Mars lost its protective magnetic field 3.8 billion years ago and the solar wind has stripped its early, habitable atmosphere.

We will mention current space missions like the Solar Orbiter and the Parker Solar Probe, which are exploring the near-sun regions, and look forward to the Rosalind Franklin rover searching for life on Mars, launching in 2022.

The speaker is Professor Andrew Coates, professor of physics and deputy director, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College, London.

The date is Wednesday, July 15. You can log in from 7pm for the talk at 7.30pm, to be followed by a break at 8.15pm and question and answers at 8.30pm.

During the talk please mute your device and turn off video so no background interference spoils the session. To ask a question please use the “chat” icon. We usually answer all questions in the order they are presented.

From 7pm to 7.30pm, we can leave mikes and videos on if you wish to talk to the crowd or someone specifically. At the end I will unmute all so we can applaud.

To register, email

David Dickie

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