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NASA discovers strange structures in the Earth's atmosphere

NASA discovers strange structures in the Earth's atmosphere

the NASA He has a new look at the strange formations at the top. Ionosphere Won. Almost. 300 km altitude It's hers electron density Particularly powerful. he was there “Alphabet Soup“Out of place C and X shaped structures Note. Why it arises is still unclear.

This was discovered by GOLD Mission (Global Limb and Disc Observations)Such structures are not known. But their appearance was still a surprise.

Propagation of radio signals

In general, the ionosphere extends Altitude 80 to 300 kmIt is shipped during the day. electrical On. Sunlight causes electrons to be repelled from atoms and molecules in the atmosphere. The resulting ionized gas is also called plasma specific. Spread is allowed Radio signals Over great distances. That's why it's important to study what's happening there in detail.

Read more: Will missiles create a new hole in the ozone layer?

A diagram of the Earth's magnetic field showing the deviation between the geographic and magnetic poles

Fountain effect over the magnetic equator

Above what is called Magnetic equator, which lies roughly above the geographic equator, although the electron density is higher at a more inclined angle. Here comes what is called “fountain effect“, as the ions are displaced to the north and south and the particle density there increases.

In a NASA video, the magnetic field lines are shown in yellow, and the ions appear as blue dots moving along the field lines. They fall toward Earth and combine with free electrons, which appear as a red flash:

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An unexpected X-shape was observed.

GOLD data has already shown in the past that ions after a Solar storm Or strong Volcanic eruptions It can take the shape of an X above the magnetic equator. But now it has been shown for the first time that such a form can arise without such external influence.

Read more: Why are there so many solar storms now?

“The X is weird because it indicates there are more local drivers,” he says. Jeffrey Klinzing, Researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said in a statement:In fact, you expect an X shape within one. Extreme eventAnd not during “rest time”.

The data show the X-shape of the molecules.

With the help of computer models The researchers identified processes in the lower atmosphere as the catalyst. You can pull the plasma down and create an X shape. The results of the study have already been published. Published in April in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics..

C-shapes also behave unusually.

But it's not just areas with high particle density that can cause strange structures. At night there can also be in the ionosphere blows With low plasma density. GPS and radio signal interference Reason. These bubbles are usually elongated and straight along the magnetic field lines. But it can be seen that GOLD also had a curved shape. C shape You can accept.

The two opposing C shapes are found in close proximity

It is formed by Earth windsIf it increases with height, it forms a C, and if it decreases with height, it forms an inverted C. Kinzing compares this to the direction of growth of a tree growing in a windy area: “If the wind usually comes from the east, the tree begins to tilt and grow in that direction.”

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Disruption could disrupt communications and navigation.

But in a study from November 2023 You have Both models I noticed they were surprisingly close to each other. They were just the maximum. 640 km“At this close, the oppositely shaped plasma bubbles were unimaginable and had never been observed before,” explains study author Deepak Karan.

Read more: This is how dangerous a solar storm can be for Earth

He doubts it. strong disturbance It must be something responsible, such as a vortex, wind shear or tornado. “The fact that we have different shapes so close together tells us that the dynamics of the atmosphere are more complex than we expected,” Klinzing says.

The phenomenon is very ScarcelyBecause so far, GOLD has only spotted it twice. But since it is for one person Failure of critical systems Like GPS or wireless communications, it's especially important to determine the cause, says Karan.

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