It’s been just revealed that the most powerful burst of gamma rays has struck Earth and affected the ionosphere. Check out the latest reports about the matter below.
Earth has been hit
The ionosphere, the uppermost part of the Earth’s atmosphere, spanning from tens of kilometers above the surface to beyond the International Space Station’s orbit, is responsible for freeing electrons from atoms and molecules due to the charged particles from the Sun.
A recent study has found that an exploding star that occurred over 2 billion light-years away, called GRB 221009A, had a significant impact on the ionosphere.
This gamma-ray burst was the most powerful ever witnessed, and its effects on Earth’s atmosphere were similar to those of a solar flare.
The European Space Agency’s International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (Integral) recently made a groundbreaking discovery.
Their observations revealed that a gamma-ray burst, which lasted for 800 seconds, caused significant alterations to the electric fields of the ionosphere, even down to the layers closest to Earth.
According to lead author Mirko Piersanti from the University of L’Aquila, this was possibly the brightest gamma-ray burst ever detected.
“We have been measuring gamma-ray bursts since the 1960s, and the most powerful one ever measured is GRB 221009A,” said co-author Pietro Ubertini, who is also the principal investigator for Integral’s IBIS instrument at the National Institute for Astrophysics.
Statistically, a GRB as strong as GRB 221009A only reaches Earth once every 10,000 years. It was so intense that it triggered lightning detectors in India and disturbed the ionosphere for many hours after the explosion. Previous GRBs had not caused such an effect on the atmosphere, but the correlation between the two is undeniable.
“It is amazing. We can see things that are happening in deep space but are also affecting Earth,” said Erik Kuulkers, ESA Project Scientist.
IFL Science has more details about the issue and we recommend that you check out the original article in order to learn more.