339. Crack in Earth’s Magnetic Field

The magnetic field surrounding the earth shield us from harsh solar winds and cosmic radiation. The scientists have detected recently that our magnetosphere has been cracked.

Researchers have been analysing data from the GRAPES-3 muon telescope in Ooty, India, which recorded a massive burst of galactic cosmic rays on 22-06-2015. For 2 hours, Earth’s magnetosphere was being bombarded by these particles, which emit immensely high-energy radiation, and travel through space at nearly the speed of light. These things are so powerful, they can penetrate the hull of a spacecraft, and Earth’s magnetic shield is our first line of defence against them.

The burst occurred when a giant cloud of plasma ejected from the solar corona struck Earth at a very high speed causing massive compression of the Earth’s magnetosphere and triggering a severe geomagnetic storm. Earth’s magnetic field bent these particles about 180 degree, from the day-side to the night-side of the Earth where it was detected as a burst by the GRAPES-3 muon telescope around mid-night on 22 June 2015.

Solar storms can cause major disruption to human civilisation by crippling large electrical power grids, global positioning systems (GPS), satellite operations and communications. The team were optimistic the knowledge gained would have positive results though, claiming it could “hold clues for a better understanding of future superstorms that could cripple modern technological infrastructure on Earth, and endanger the lives of the astronauts in space.”

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