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Watch Pluto's mesmerizing space weather

NASA's Solar System weather simulation shows how quiet it was near Pluto when New Horizons showed up.

Ever wondered what the cosmic weather is like, especially around more distant worlds? NASA's happy to help. It recently published a simulation of the Solar System's weather (specifically the Sun's flares, winds and other behaviors) around the time New Horizons swung by Pluto. The color-coded imagery, which reflects the density, pressure and temperature of outgoing plasma, is more than a little hypnotic -- the plasma slowly spirals out, with coronal mass ejections creating shockwaves (the blue you see above) that travel to the farthest reaches of the system.

The simulation isn't perfect. Other teams produced simulations with varying results, since they're putting greater values on different physics. However, many of those questions should be settled once New Horizons returns its own space weather data -- NASA will know which simulation was closest and improve its accuracy by leaps and bounds.

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