Heliophysics Science

Heliophysics Home

What is heliophysics?

Heliophysics is the integrated study of the Sun, its planets, and space environment as a dynamic system. It focuses on the Sun's turbulent magnetic activity and its effects on the upper atmosphere of Earth, as well as on other solar system planets and the surrounding heliosphere.

It encompasses many areas of inquiry: cosmic rays and particle acceleration, space weather and radiation, dust and magnetic reconnection, solar activity and stellar cycles, aeronomy and space plasmas, magnetic fields and global change, and the interactions of the solar system with our galaxy.

How does it benefit us?

Heliophysics has great value for two reasons. It is critical in understanding space weather and its potentially crippling impacts on our vital technologies: our satellites, communications and navigation signals, and power grids. This understanding guides our mitigation strategies. 

Heliophysics also teaches us about habitability. In studying the Sun’s changing effects on planetary atmospheres, we can learn by proxy about another star’s effects on the atmospheres of its exoplanets. This knowledge will support our search for life elsewhere in the universe.

Explore the Sun-Earth connection

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For grad students & early postdocs

Focus on the physics and impacts of Sun-generated
space weather events

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For early-career PhDs

Perform cross-disciplinary research under
experienced scientist mentors at U.S. institutions

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For faculty & students

Access presentations, problem sets and solutions,
textbooks, and more from past Summer Schools

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For researchers & engineers

Collaborate to outline new space weather research
that will critically improve an existing technology area

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Partners in nurturing a new science

NASA and CPAESS logos

NASA's Living With a Star Program (LWS) and UCAR Community Programs' Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS) partnered in 2006 to launch the Heliophysics Summer School. Since then they have worked to foster heliophysis as an integrated science, teaching a new generation of researchers to engage in cross-disciplinary communication.

See the history behind the partnership