Solar storm particles bombard earth relentlesslyDecember 17th, 2008 - 11:33 am ICT by IANS
Washington, Dec 17 (IANS) Solar storm particles are relentlessly bombarding the earth, through two gaping breaches in the earth’s magnetic field, which shields it from such particles, according to researchers.”The discovery overturns a long-standing belief about how and when most of the solar particles penetrate earth’s magnetic field, and could be used to predict when solar storms will be severe. Based on these results, we expect more severe storms during the upcoming solar cycle,” said Vassilis Angelopoulos.
Angelopoulos of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is the principal investigator for NASA’s THEMIS mission (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms). THEMIS helped discover the size of the leak.
As solar particles (ions and electrons) are electrically charged, most of them are deflected by the planet’s magnetic field. However, the number of particles breaching this shield when it develops leaks depends on the orientation of the sun’s magnetic field.
It had been thought that when the sun’s magnetic field is aligned with that of the earth, the door is shut and that few if any solar particles enter earth’s magnetic shield, said an UCLA release.
Surprisingly, recent observations by THEMIS spacecraft fleet demonstrate that the opposite is true. “Twenty times more solar particles cross the earth’s leaky magnetic shield when the sun’s magnetic field is aligned with that of the earth compared to when the two magnetic fields are oppositely directed,” said Marit Oieroset of University of California, Berkeley, co-author of a paper on this study, published in May 2008.
Researchers have long suspected that this “closed door” entry mechanism might exist, but didn’t know how important it was. “It’s as if people knew there was a crack in a levee, but they did not know how much flooding it caused,” said Oieroset.
These findings were published in Geophysical Research Letters.
- Scientists discover biggest breach of Earths solar storm shield - Dec 17, 2008
- Boffins discover "spacequakes" that rumble in Earth's atmosphere - Aug 02, 2010
- Scientists pinpoint the impact epicenter of earthbound space storms - May 29, 2009
- NASA's Artemis mission to shed light on Moon's space environment - Oct 28, 2010
- Mystery of aurora borealis solved after 30 years - Jul 25, 2008
- Previously unknown mode of energy transfer from solar wind to Earth's magnetosphere found - Sep 11, 2009
- Aurora borealis can sometimes produce spectacular explosions of light - Dec 18, 2009
- Leading NASA Scientists Issue A Warning About A Solar Space Storm - Jun 25, 2010
- No connection between superstorms and Earth's magnetic fields: Experts - Feb 13, 2011
- Indian scientist concerned over effect of solar storm on earth - Aug 10, 2010
- NASA discovers magnetic ropes which connect Earth to the Sun - Dec 12, 2007
- Powerful solar storm disrupts communications - Feb 20, 2011
- Earth's magnetic field is 3.45 billion years old - May 05, 2010
- Warning system to protect astronauts from solar radiation - Jul 13, 2012
- Powerful solar flare disrupts ground communications on Earth - Feb 19, 2011