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A powerful space hurricane was detected over the North Pole2 min read

March 23, 2021 2 min read


A powerful space hurricane was detected over the North Pole2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Researchers have found a powerful hurricane, 1,000 kilometres wide, over the North Pole. They are calling it the space-hurricane.

A hurricane is a large rotating storm that has high speed winds. It is formed over warm waters, mostly in Tropical areas. It has an area of low pressure at the centre called the ‘eye’. Hurricanes need warm water as an energy source to thrive. So, if they escape water and come onto land, the warm water as a source evaporates, and the hurricane dies down. Watch this video to know more about the formation of a hurricane:

Now imagine something bigger than this happening in the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere!

Illustration of a space hurricane created using the observation data. (Courtesy: Qing-He Zhang, Shandong University)

The space hurricane being discussed here was found several hundred kilometres in the ionosphere in 2014. But it was revealed only recently in research undertaken by Shandong University, China.

Think with Owliver:
Ionosphere is one of the layers of the atmosphere. What are the different layers of the atmosphere?

The team confirmed its presence by creating a 3-D model: a swirling 1000 kilometre wide funnel composed of plasma instead of air.

Plasma is the fourth state of matter (solid, liquid, glass, plasma), and is very hot! The universe is made of space plasma.

The model rotated in an anti-clockwise direction with a calm ‘eye’ in the centre. This spiralling lasted for eight hours before this hurricane in a funnel calmed down. The model also indicated that the hurricane was formed because of the interaction between powerful solar wind and Earth’s magnetic activity.

Did you just say that Earth is a magnet?

Well, earth has a magnetic field because of the presence of molten iron and nickel in its core. This magnetic field interacts with the solar wind, which is the stream of particles coming out of the sun.
It is this interaction between the two that gave rise to the space hurricane!

Should we be scared of a space hurricane?

Not really! Instead of spewing rainwater on the planet, like other hurricanes, the space hurricane showered electrons into the Earth’s upper atmosphere. But it can impact space weather effects (the effects of the activity of the sun on the Earth). Altered space weather can, in turn, damage satellites that are used for communication and navigation.

Sourced from Live Science and Physics World

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