Scientists at Shandong University, China, confirmed the existence of a hurricane in the upper atmosphere of the North Pole. Unlike cyclones that are eventually found on Earth, the space phenomenon was composed of plasma and released electrons instead of water. The discovery came after the team reanalyzed data collected by satellites and weather radars in August 2014.
Information from the survey “A space hurricane over the Earth’s polar ionosphere”, published in the magazine Nature Communications, showed a plasma mass of approximately one thousand kilometers in the region. It was generated during a period of low geomagnetic activity and its occurrence had spiral movements, lasting 8 hours.
“Until now, it was uncertain whether space hurricanes in plasma existed, so proving that with such an impressive observation was incredible,” said Mike Lockwood, author of the study in a statement from the University of Reading (England).
3D illustration of the phenomenon, generated from satellite data.Source: Nature Communications / Reproduction
The emission of particles can cause problems for satellites and astronauts. Therefore, the discovery and development of the study area can help scientists come to a deeper understanding of the space climate and how it can impact reliable systems, such as navigation and communication.
The hurricane was generated by an “extraordinarily large and rapid transfer of solar energy and charged particles to the Earth’s upper atmosphere”, pointed out the researcher. The team concluded that the process may also be important in revealing the interaction between interstellar winds and other solar systems across the Universe.
This situation also suggests that the phenomenon may be common in the atmosphere of other planets and moons that have magnetic fields and plasma. This would be the result of a state of matter in which a gas would become so hot that its atoms would be divided into electrons and ions, generating an independent movement and easily influenced by forces such as impulse and magnetic attraction.