For The First Time, A 'Space Hurricane' Has Been Detected Over The North Pole
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For the first time, a hurricane has been detected in Earth's upper atmosphere. Satellites recorded a huge flowing swirl of plasma extending high into the magnetosphere that lasted for hours before dispersing.Although we've never seen anything like this before, its detection suggests that space hurricanes, as they are known could be a common planetary phenomenon.
According to the data, the hurricane appeared over the North Pole, extending to a diameter of 1,000 kilometres (621 miles). It reached from 110 kilometres to 860 kilometres in altitude, and consisted of plasma with multiple spiral arms, swirling in an anticlockwise direction at speeds up to 2,100 metres per second (6,900 feet per second).
Unlike other hurricanes, however, the space hurricane rained electrons into the ionosphere. This had a stunning effect: a huge, cyclone-shaped aurora below the hurricane. The whole thing lasted nearly eight hours, depositing vast amounts of energy and momentum into the ionosphere.
A rain of charged particles into the ionosphere from the solar wind is what usually produces glowing green aurorae at Earth's higher latitudes but solar conditions at the time were relatively quiet. So the team turned to modelling to determine what caused the plasma ruckus.
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