Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Weakening of the Earth's Magnetosphere 10x faster than hypothesized

  • Data was collected by the European Space Agency's Swarm satellites
  • First data set reveals dramatic declines over the Western hemisphere, but a strengthening of the Earth's magnetic field over the southern Indian Ocean
  • Changes could be due to the magnetic poles getting ready to 'flip'
  • Latest measurements confirm movement of magnetic North towards Siberia
  • Scientists previously estimated the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening at five per cent every century and now think it could be 10 times as fast

  • Does this mean we'll face the brunt of the Sun's radiation?

    Saturday, July 25, 2015

    Huge explosions from Magnetic Reconnections

    Large flares are often associated with huge ejections of mass from the Sun, although the association is not clear. These coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are balloon-shaped bursts of solar wind rising above the solar corona, expanding as they climb. Solar plasma is heated to tens of millions of degrees, and electrons, protons, and heavy nuclei are accelerated to near the speed of light. The super-heated electrons from CMEs move along the magnetic field lines faster than the solar wind can flow.

    CMEs are not small either...
    Rearrangement of the magnetic field, and solar flares may result in the formation of a shock that accelerates particles ahead of the CME loop. Each CME releases up to 100 billion kg (220 billion lb) of this material, and the speed of the ejection can reach 1000 km/second (2 million mph) in some flares. Solar flares and CMEs are currently the biggest "explosions" in our solar system, roughly approaching the power in one billion hydrogen atomic bombs.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015

    Welcome to the Magnetic Apocalypse

    Expect electrically charged storms, rising tides and power outages
    For scary speculation about the end of civilization in 2012, people usually turn to followers of cryptic Mayan prophecy, not scientists. But that’s exactly what a group of NASA-assembled researchers described in a chilling report issued earlier this year on the destructive potential of solar storms.
    Entitled “Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts,” it describes the consequences of solar flares unleashing waves of energy that could disrupt Earth’s magnetic field, overwhelming high-voltage transformers with vast electrical currents and short-circuiting energy grids. Such a catastrophe would cost the United States “$1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year,” concluded the panel, and “full recovery could take four to 10 years.” That would, of course, be just a fraction of global damages.