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Old February 26 2011, 08:29 PM   #7
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Re: TAS Episode Showdown : Bem vs Albatross

Basill wrote: View Post
Possibly similar to the phenomena responsible for the ship shaking "ion storms" from TOS and a few other sequal series?
An ion storm is actually a real thing, sort of. It's an alternate name for a coronal mass ejection, a massive burst of stellar wind. This is a comparatively dense outburst of highly energetic ions (hydrogen nuclei, free electrons, some heavier ions), and can have quite a lot of energy. When a CME hits Earth, even with our magnetic field shielding us, it can cause electrical line failures and power outages, as well as creating a radiation hazard for high-altitude aircraft, let alone astronauts. A CME could certainly be dangerous for a spaceship.

(Although it's not a very common or formal name for a CME, and I bet it's mainly used by astronomers who are also Trek/SF fans.)

And yes, CMEs do cause auroras in Earth's atmosphere when they strike our magnetic field. But that's a far cry from getting auroras in interplanetary space. Auroras happen because the solar wind particles channeled by Earth's magnetic field collide with nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the atmosphere, exciting or ionizing them and causing them to give off light when they return to ground state. So auroras shouldn't be possible in airless space.
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