In astronomy, interplanetary scintillation refers to random fluctuations in the intensity of radio waves of celestial origin, on the timescale of a few seconds. It is analogous to the twinkling one sees looking at stars in the sky at night, but in the radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum rather than the visible one. Interplanetary scintillation is the result of radio waves traveling through fluctuations in the density of the electron and protons that make up the solar wind.
Scintillation, meaning rapid modification, in radio waves due to the small scale structures in the ionosphere, known as ionospheric scintillation, was observed as early as 1951 by Antony Hewish, and he then reported irregularities in radiation received during an observation of a bright radio source in Taurus in 1954. Hewish considered various possibilities, and suggested that irregularities in the solar corona would cause scattering by refraction and could produce the irregularities he o