Rather than raining water, the plasma hurricane released electrons, according to researchers.
This week, a team of researchers revealed the results of research that highlights the first-ever detection of a space hurricane in our planet’s upper atmosphere. Dissimilar to the notorious cyclones that cause destruction closer to Earth’s surface, the space hurricane was comprised of swirling plasma and “rained” electrons.
According to a statement issued by University of Reading space scientist Mike Lockwood on Monday, to date, it was doubtful about the existence of space plasma hurricanes. That’s why to establish this with such a striking observation is unbelievable. Lockwood is co-author of a paper on the phenomenon written in the journal Nature Communications in late February.
Scientists found the event after reanalyzing data obtained by satellites in August 2014. Researchers at Shandong University in China headed the team that made the invention. The data revealed a 620-mile-wide (1,000-kilometer) plasma mass swirling above the North Pole. It featured spiral arms and remained for almost eight hours.
Plasma is a hot topic for study. NASA, which has examined plasma space tornadoes, describes space plasma as charged particles, like electrons and ions. These particles shoot through space and can pose threats for satellites and astronauts. The space agency was also behind a 2019 paper on plasma tsunamis in the sun.
Lockwood indicated an unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the Earth’s upper atmosphere as what served the space hurricane. The existence of at least one known space hurricane under these circumstances implies that they might be common in the atmospheres of other planets.
Understanding Earth’s very own space hurricane could facilitate scientists to gain a deeper understanding of space weather and how it can affect systems we depend on, like GPS. As a bonus, it just appears fashionable to say “space hurricane.”