On 20th August 2014, astronomers detected a 1000 kilometer wide hurricane of plasma in the Earth’s upper atmosphere over the North Pole for the first time. Scientists at the Shandong University in China were the first to observe and detect the hurricane. According to them, the hurricane spun counterclockwise at speeds up to 7,560 kilometers per hour and rained down electrons for eight hours.
Astronomers call this event a “Space Hurricane”. Until this confirmation, Space Hurricanes were thought to be just a theoretical concept. So, what are these so-called “Space Hurricanes” and how do they form?
What are Space Hurricanes?
Unlike a “Hurricane” which is made of wind and water, “Space Hurricanes” are made of plasma and charged particles. Surprisingly, space hurricanes are very similar to hurricanes on Earth. They have a funnel shape, spin, and also have a quiet area called the “eye”. In place of raining water, they rain electrons.
How do they form?
Scientists used a highly accurate 3D model of the Space Hurricane to determine their formation. According to them, the Space hurricane formed by a complex interaction between incoming solar winds and Earth’s magnetic field. The researchers from Shandong University of China also say that Space Hurricanes can happen on any planet with a magnetic field.
Are they dangerous to humans?
No! Space Hurricanes are not dangerous to humans as they occur at a very high altitude. But, they can disrupt/damage any satellites going through the storm, GPS, and Radio communication systems.