October 1, 2013

What Really Causes Space Weather?

A collaboration of researchers from UCLA, NASA, Japan and Austria used six different satellites to finally get the big picture on how solar storms, which can knock out communication systems, originate. Energy from the sun is stored in Earth’s magnetosphere, causing the layer to stretch out over a million miles like a tail. And similar to how a pebble thrown in a pond causes ripples, the release of this stored magnetic energy, called magnetic reconnection, converts the stored magnetic energy into particle energy that expands out and is converted into different kinds of energy, which is what powers auroras and the radiation belts. The new positions of the 6 satellites allowed scientists to see the total energy conversion picture for the first time, which moves us closer to one-day predicting and forecasting space weather.

[ Read the Article: Multi-Satellite Observations Help Uncover Origins Of Space Weather ]

Thumbnail and Some Background Images Credit: Thinkstock.com

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