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Solar Wind Features


Why We Study the Sun 
The Big Questions 
Magnetism - The Key 


The Interior 
The Photosphere 
The Chromosphere 
The Transition Region 
The Corona 
The Solar Wind 
The Heliosphere 


Photospheric Features 
Chromospheric Features 
Coronal Features 
Solar Wind Features 


The Sunspot Cycle 
Solar Flares 
Post Flare Loops 
Coronal Mass Ejections 
Surface and Interior Flows 
Waves and Helioseismology 


Flare Mechanisms 
3D Magnetic Fields 
The Solar Dynamo 
Sunspot Cycle Predictions 
Solar Wind Dynamics 

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Magnetic Clouds

Magnetic Clouds are produced in the solar wind when solar eruptions (flares and coronal mass ejections) carry material off of the Sun along with embedded magnetic fields. These magnetic clouds can be detected in the solar wind through observations of the solar wind characteristics - wind speed, density, and magnetic field strength and direction.

Corotating Interactive Regions

Corotating Interactive Regions (CIRs) are regions within the solar wind where streams of material moving at different speeds collide and interact with each other. The speed of the solar wind varies from less than 300 km/s (about half a million miles per hour) to over 800 km/s depending upon the conditions in the corona where the solar wind has its source. Low speed winds come from the regions above helmet streamers while high speed winds come from coronal holes. As the Sun rotates these various streams rotate as well (co-rotation) and produce a pattern in the solar wind much like that of a rotating lawn sprinkler. However, if a slow moving stream is followed by a fast moving stream the faster moving material will catch-up to the slower material and plow into it. This interaction produces shock waves that can accelerate particles to very high speeds.

Composition Variations

The chemical composition of the solar wind has several interesting aspects that hint at physical processes occuring in the solar wind source regions. The solar wind composition is different from the composition of the solar surface and shows variations that are associated with solar activity and solar features.

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Author: David H. Hathaway,, (256) 544-7610
Mail Code SD50, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812


Responsible Official: John M. Davis,, (256) 544-7600
Mail Code SD50, NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812


Last revised 2000 July 18 - D. H. Hathaway

Reproduced from