“When the Earth’s magnetic field is aligned in the same direction as the sun’s magnetic field, the alignment causes the two magnetic fields to connect and tears holes in the Earth’s magnetic field over the poles.”
The magnetic field that surrounds our planet and protects us from the sun’s harmful radiation sometimes springs a couple of large leaks that let in blasts of solar wind, researchers have discovered. While humanity isn’t in any imminent danger, researchers say that during intense solar storms the rents in what’s known as the magnetosphere will let in streams of charged solar particles, which can interfere with satellites and electricity grids.
Researchers knew previously that cracks in the magnetosphere sometimes occur, but they didn’t understand their potential size and had some misunderstandings about how they formed. Previously, scientists believed that the holes form when the sun’s magnetic field is aligned in the opposite direction from the Earth’s. But the new study showed that 20 times more solar particles enter the Earth’s magnetic field when it is aligned in the same direction as the sun’s magnetic field. The alignment causes the two magnetic fields to connect and tears holes in the Earth’s magnetic field over the poles. “What we observed was the breach in the levee,” said Jimmy Raeder, a physicist at the University of New Hampshire. “This has taken us completely by surprise” [Reuters].
“Holes in Earth’s magnetic cloak let the sun in”
Added: December 16, 2008
“NASA THEMIS Discovers Biggest Breach of Earth’s Magnetosphere”
Phil Berg Barack Obama Ron Polarik Jeff Schreiber