Scientists recently confirmed the first observations of a space hurricane in Earth’s upper atmosphere. The observations were made by satellite in August 2014 but were recently discovered by a team of scientists from Reading University and Shandong University in China. Observations confirm the existence of space hurricanes and highlight the relationship between planets and space.
data Captured by satellites allowed the scientists to create a 3D image of the 1,000-kilometer-wide swirl mass of plasma that stretched 700 kilometers over the North Pole. A space hurricane showered atoms rather than water, and the researchers say that in many ways it was very similar to tornadoes that occur in Earth’s lower atmosphere. Researchers believe that space hurricanes are caused by an unusually large and rapid transfer of the solar wind’s energy and charged particles to the planet’s upper atmosphere.
While this is the first space hurricane to be observed, given the existence of plasma and magnetic fields in planets’ atmospheres throughout the universe, space tornadoes are likely a widespread phenomenon. Interestingly, hurricanes have been observed in the lower atmosphere of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. No space hurricane has been detected in other planets’ upper atmosphere before.
The space tornado observed in Earth’s atmosphere was rotating in a counterclockwise direction and had spiral arms. It lasted nearly 8 hours before collapsing. The scientific analysis used data from satellites, radars, and other sources for consistency and building a picture of what happened to better understand the mechanisms involved in their development.
The space cyclone occurred during a period of low geomagnetic activity, indicating that it could be relatively common within the solar system and the universe in general. This discovery highlights how important learning and observing space weather is because storms can disrupt GPS satellites in orbit.