A big discovery by scientists came as a complete surprise, and suggests there's a lot we don't know about what goes on in the upper atmosphere.
An astonishing new study claims that something pretty amazing has been happening high up in our atmosphere. Reserchers claim they’ve found evidence that solar storms are stripping huge quantities of electrons from our atmosphere, seemingly running contrary to common knowledge that solar storms cause an excess of electrons.
The findings, published in the journal Radio Science, suggest that electrons disappear from large parts of the atmosphere at the same time that they show up in large numbers in other places. Scientists were aware of this phenomenon, but until now had no clue why it happened.
Scientists are conducting this study to better understand how electromagnetic storms affect communications and navigation systems. This phenomenon could have a huge impact on how we understand solar storms and their impact on communications here on Earth.
“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 in a statement from the Technical University of Denmark.
“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.