Scientists are baffled, befuddled & dumbfounded at the strange anomalies the Sun creates near Earth.Crazy!
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Solar storms trigger surprising phenomena close to Earth
In connection with violent solar eruptions, large variations occur in electron density in the ionosphere over Greenland, which interferes with GPH navigation signals as well as flight and satellite communication. The figure Eruptions on the Sun’s surface send clouds of electrically charged particles towards Earth, producing solar storms that—among other things—can trigger the beautiful Northern Lights over the Arctic regions.
But the storms may also have a strong impact on the efficiency of communication and navigation systems at high latitudes. It is therefore important to study the phenomena.
New research from DTU Space and University of New Brunswick (Prof. Richard Langley), NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Dr. Attila Komjathy) and University of Illinois (Dr. Mark D. Butala) shows that, apparently, there is a surprising and unknown mechanism in play during solar storms. During solar storms, large bursts of electrons are usually sent into the part of Earth’s atmosphere called the ionosphere, which starts about 80 kilometres above the Earth.
This phenomenon occurs especially at high latitudes. It happens because the magnetic field created by the eruption on the Sun interferes with the Earth’s magnetic field. It opens, so to speak, up to allow particles and electrons—that would otherwise be reflected—to penetrate the ionosphere.
It is a known phenomenon. But it turns out that electrons at the same time disappear from large areas, which has not been demonstrated earlier.
“We made extensive measurements in connection with a specific solar storm over the Arctic in 2014, and here we found that electrons in large quantities are virtually vacuum-cleaned from areas extending over 500 to 1,000 kilometres. It takes place just south of an area with heavy increases in electron density, known as patches,” says Professor Per Høeg from DTU Space.
The results of the research were recently published on the front page of the renowned scientific journal Radio Science. The discovery is an important piece in the jigsaw puzzle of understanding solar storms and their impact on the Earth’s ionosphere.
It’s a surprising discovery that we hadn’t anticipated. We can see that it happens, but we don’t know why. However, other datasets from Canada indirectly support our new observations,” says Per Høeg.
Dramatic changes in magnetic field
The explanation of the phenomenon should probably be found in the geomagnetic processes in the Earth’s magnetic field in a direction away from the Sun. The composition of the magnetic field undergoes dramatic changes in the area between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field, triggering powerful burst of energy.
“The forerunner to the phenomenon is a violent eruption on the Sun’s surface—also known as coronal mass ejections or CME, where bubbles of hot plasma and gas in the form of particles, electrons, and a magnetic field are hurled in the direction of the Earth,” says Per Høeg.
As the geomagnetic solar storm took place in the ionosphere over the Arctic in February 2014, it was measured via satellites and land-based measuring stations. Among other things, via the GPS network GNET in Greenland—which DTU helps run—via DTU’s geomagnetic measuring stations, the global navigation system GPS, and various American and Canadian satellites. Thus, large data volumes from the solar storm were recorded.
The research extends far beyond the discovery that electrons are pulled out during solar storms. Tibor Durgonics, PhD student at DTU Space and main author of the new article in Radio Science:
“There are two aspects of this research. It can both be used for a number of practical purposes, and then there is a theoretical part which is about achieving a better basic understanding of these phenomena.
“Our work can contribute to making navigation more reliable during ionospheric storms in the Arctic region. Our new research has enabled us to identify a number of critical factors that affect the quality of satellite-based navigation, and to assess the probability of when these factors may occur. At a more theoretical level, we have found out that during solar storms, electrons are removed in the ionosphere, which is the opposite of what you intuitively would expect.”
When the magnetic field from solar eruptions hits the Earth’s magnetic field in the ionosphere, their
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