Heliosphere

The heliosphere is the sun’s extended atmosphere that surrounds the entire solar system.

Artist concept of heliosphere. Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

Artist concept of heliosphere. Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

On Earth, we live inside an atmosphere that sustains life but also produces dynamic and often destructive phenomena to which we must adjust our lives. This includes hurricanes, tornadoes, torrential rains and powerful winds. An idea that is foreign to many is that we also live inside the atmosphere of a star, that is the entire solar system sits inside the atmosphere of a star, an active and dynamic star we call the Sun. This extended atmosphere is called the heliosphere. It consists of ionized gas (plasma), particles and magnetic field that interacts with the interplanetary environment producing different effects that we collectively call space weather.