- So far, space hurricanes have not been certain.
- The space tornado that the research team observed in the Earth’s ionosphere was spinning in an anti-clockwise direction.
- The results indicate that space hurricanes should be a widespread phenomenon.
And now we have space hurricanes to worry about.
For the first time, scientists have discovered what they call a “space hurricane” orbiting over the North Pole, according to New study. The mass of the plasma, nearly 600 miles wide, was hundreds of miles above the North Pole, and electrons were “showered” instead of water, according to the study.
So far, it’s not certain that space tornadoes exist, “so proving it with such an amazing observation is unbelievable,” said study co-author Mike Lockwood, a space scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, in statement.
The observations, made by satellite in August 2014, were only revealed during retrospective analyzes led by scientists from Shandong University in China.
The authors say more study is needed, especially because this type of geomagnetic activity can disrupt GPS satellites.
The space tornado the research team observed in the Earth’s ionosphere was spinning counterclockwise (as do hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere), had multiple spiral arms and lasted about eight hours before gradually collapsing.
In many ways, this space hurricane resembles the tornadoes we know here down below in Earth’s lower atmosphere.
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Tropical storms and hurricanes occur in the Earth’s lower atmosphere over warm bodies of water such as oceans and bays. When the warm, moist air rises, it creates an area of low pressure near the surface that absorbs the surrounding air, causing very strong winds and the formation of clouds that lead to heavy rain.
“Tropical storms are associated with tremendous amounts of energy,” Lockwood said. “These space hurricanes must be created by an unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles to the Earth’s upper atmosphere.”
The University of Reading said in a statement that hurricanes such as those here on Earth have also been seen in the lower atmosphere of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, while massive solar tornadoes have been observed in the heliosphere. However, space hurricanes have not been previously detected in planets’ upper atmospheres.
“Plasma and magnetic fields are found in planets’ atmospheres throughout the universe, so the results indicate that space hurricanes should be a widespread phenomenon,” Lockwood said.
Additionally, according to the study, the fact that a space hurricane occurs during a period of reduced geomagnetic activity indicates that it could be relatively more common within our solar system and beyond. “This highlights the importance of better monitoring of space weather, which can disrupt GPS systems,” the University of Reading said in a statement.
The results have been published in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Communications.