Research Named After Godzilla-Like Monster Reveals Earth’s Magnetic Field Fraught With Hazards

It appears solar storms not only paint the polar skies in a diverse palette of colours, but may be hazardous for humans. Anyway, what appears to be the most mind-blowing is that their source is in really close proximity to us, Earth-dwellers.

According to a newly published joint study by Rice University physicists and researchers at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, auroras and satellite function might be impacted by what looks like “bubbles” in the plasma enveloping Earth – the vibrations that solar wind visibly creates within Earth’s protective magnetic shell known as the magnetosphere.

Whereas hardly any movement could be detected on the outer part of the shell, as the solar wind’s charged particles roll off like water drops from an oily surface, in the inner layers, the wind causes turbulence and hence complex effects like strings of waves, etc.

To map the oscillations, or “ripples”, the researchers used a specially created algorithm – something referred to as the Rice Convection Model, or Gamera, named after the fictional Japanese monster that bears the same name.

The method, which Rice officials said is “decades in the making”, helped register the “ripples” moving like a plucked guitar string that in almost no time return to equilibrium, per Frank Toffoletto, space plasma physicist at Rice University and lead author of the fresh study published in mid-December in the journal JGR Space Physics. 

The low-frequency waves that are responsible for the fluctuations – otherwise dubbed eigenmodes, haven’t been studied at length yet, but constitute an intriguing subject of analysis as they “appear to be associated with dynamic disruptions to the magnetosphere”, as highly energised electrons were detected by weather satellites in near-Earth orbit following a storm and accelerating to high energies.

The latter cause not only stunning auroras to shine from the polar skies and other beautiful sights, but likewise disruptions to satellite and even power grids on Earth. Some such events have already gone down in history – for instance, the moment in 1921, when solar storms disrupted telegraph communications and caused outages that led to a New York City train station catching fire. Separately, according to a new study recently published in the journal Nature Physics, such electron acceleration may pose a danger to the hundreds of satellites moving in near-Earth orbit as well as human DNA, according to the statement.


Research Named After Godzilla-Like Monster Reveals Earth’s Magnetic Field Fraught With Hazards

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