World Premiere: Astronomers Detect a ‘Space Hurricane’ Above Our Planet

World Premiere: Astronomers Detect a ‘Space Hurricane’ Above Our Planet

A new discovery made by Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites almost seven years ago may not have meant too much at that time. Meanwhile, we all should be amazed by the recent work of a research team from China’s Shandong University and other researchers from England’s University of Reading. The latter groups uncovered the true value of the discovery from 2014: as reveals, they identified a so-called ‘space hurricane’ swirling in the northern polar ionosphere, meaning the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

As you’ve already guessed, ”space hurricanes’ are not something to be hearing too much about. The unique phenomenon looks like a cyclone-like auroral spot that has a huge diameter of more than 1,000 kilometers.

Instead of raining droplets, the hurricane releases electrons across wide areas above the North Pole. Although the event resembled a typical hurricane occurring in the lower atmosphere, it lasted for only about eight hours.

An incredible discovery

Reading Professor Mike Lockwood notes that the discovery is incredible. The man declared:

Tropical storms are associated with huge amounts of energy, and these space hurricanes must be created by unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Professor Qing-He Zhang, the lead author of the new study, declared:

This study suggests that there are still existing local intense geomagnetic disturbance and energy depositions which is comparable to that during super storms. This will update our understanding of the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling process under extremely quiet geomagnetic conditions.

By using satellite observations and a 3D magnetosphere, scientists were able to produce an image of the space hurricane. Furthermore, their creation could provide evidence that space hurricanes might be common in the Universe for planets that also possess magnetic fields.

The new study was published in the journal Nature Communications.


Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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