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Home / Science / Researchers have observed “space hurricanes” in the earth’s ionosphere Earth science, planetary science, space exploration

Researchers have observed “space hurricanes” in the earth’s ionosphere Earth science, planetary science, space exploration



Hurricanes in the lower atmosphere of the earth are well known. However, hurricane-like disturbances have never been found in the upper atmosphere.

Artist's impression of space hurricanes. Image source: Zhang Qinghe, Shandong University.

Artist’s impression of space hurricanes. Image source: Zhang Qinghe, Shandong University.

Professor Mike Lockwood, a space scientist in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, said: “Until now, it is uncertain whether there is a space plasma hurricane, so it is incredible to prove this with such amazing observations. of.”

;

“Tropical storms are related to huge amounts of energy, and these space hurricanes must be produced by extremely large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the upper atmosphere of the earth.”

“There are plasmas and magnetic fields in planetary atmospheres throughout the universe, so research results show that space hurricanes should be a common phenomenon.”

In this study, Professor Lockwood and his colleagues analyzed data collected by four National Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites in 2014.

They detected a 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) wide plasma mass in the North Pole ionosphere and magnetosphere during low solar activity and other low geomagnetic activities.

The hurricane rotates in a counterclockwise direction, with multiple spiral arms, which lasted for nearly eight hours before it gradually decomposed.

Space hurricanes: (a) Schematic diagram of space hurricanes in the ionosphere of the North Pole; magenta cyclone-like aurora points, thick brown arrows with circular ionospheric currents, representing space hurricanes with light green background, showing downward field-oriented currents ( FAC); The convective streamline is blue with a thick green horizontal line, showing the magnetic coincidence of the projection around the edge of the sharp equator and tail (lobe) at the top of the magnet in the daytime; vertical dark blue The lines represent the earth's magnetic field lines with electron precipitation and FAC. The sun is at the top, indicating that the polar ionosphere is under sunlight during the time interval of interest; (b) The 3D magnetosphere diagram during a space hurricane; different color shades indicate different regions of the magnetosphere; shaded magenta funnel Shows the space hurricane in the magnetosphere; the red, black and blue curves with arrows are the interplanetary magnetic field lines, the Earth’s magnetic field lines and the newly reconnected Earth’s magnetic field lines; the thick green line represents the reconnected location; with a satellite icon The yellow curve of shows the satellite orbit; in this case, the magnetopause can be reused during the day on the magnetopause near the equator and tail (lobe) boundary of the tines. Due to the reconnection of the stable high-latitude leaves, the funnel (spatial hurricane) is formed just in the polar direction (b) of the cusp area, and there is a large ionospheric convective valve pool inside the convection pool in the normal afternoon, and the horizontal plasma flow is very strong.  . Image source: Zhang et al., doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-21459-y.

Space hurricane: (a) Schematic diagram of space hurricane in the North Pole ionosphere; magenta cyclone-like aurora point, brown thick arrow with circular ionospheric current, representing space hurricane with light green background, showing downward field-oriented current (FAC) ); The convective streamline is blue with a thick green horizontal line, showing the magnetically coincident part of the projection around the edge of the sharp equator and tail (lobe) at the magnetic peak during the day; vertical dark blue The lines represent the earth’s magnetic field lines with electron precipitation and FAC. The sun is at the top, indicating that the polar ionosphere is under sunlight during the time interval of interest; (b) A schematic diagram of the 3D magnetosphere during a space hurricane; different color shades indicate different regions of the magnetosphere; magenta shades The funnel shows the space hurricane in the magnetosphere; the red, black and blue curves with arrows are the interplanetary magnetic field lines, the Earth’s magnetic field lines and the newly reconnected Earth’s magnetic field lines; the thick green line represents the reconnected location; with satellites The yellow curve of the icon shows the satellite orbit; in this case, the magnetopause can be reused during the day on the magnetopause near the equator and tail (lobe) boundary of the tines. Due to the reconnection of the stable high-latitude leaves, the funnel (space hurricane) is formed just in the extreme direction (b) of the tip area, and there is a large ionospheric convective lobe pool inside the convection pool in the normal afternoon, and the horizontal plasma flow is very strong. .Image source: Zhang Wait. , Doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-21459-y.

“These characteristics indicate that, under the originally extremely quiet geomagnetic conditions, a large amount of energy and flux are rapidly deposited into the polar ionosphere by space hurricanes, which indicates that current geomagnetic activity indicators cannot correctly represent the violent activities in space hurricanes. Professor Zhang Qinghe from the Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Optical Astronomy and Solar Terrestrial Environment at the Institute of Space Science of Shandong University said: “This is farther than the geomagnetic observatory. “

He added: “This study shows that there are still strong local geomagnetic interference and energy deposits comparable to those during strong storms.”

“This will give us a deeper understanding of the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling process under extremely quiet geomagnetic conditions.”

“In addition, space hurricanes will cause important space weather effects, such as increased satellite resistance, high-frequency (HF) radio communications interference, and over-the-horizon radar positioning, increased errors in satellite navigation and communication systems.”

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Zhang Qinghua Wait. 2021. A hurricane over the earth’s polar ionosphere. Nat Comp December 1207; doi: 10.1038 / s41467-021-21459-y


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