The latest space weather news is very interesting, if you're into that sort of thing - which I am - and since this is my blog, I'm going to insist that you be interested, too. I'm just kinda bossy, like that:
The latest news on the Science at NASA feed I have friended is about our magnetosphere and what they are calling 'spacequakes'....
Okay, first of all - I'll never use the term 'spacequakes' again. It sounds stupid.
But more importantly, the point of this post is that - as you may already know - our magnetic bubble protecting Earth from the solar wind is stretched out behind us in a long tail by the blast of particles traveling out from the sun. It is these particles that cause the auroras at the North Pole and over Antarctica.
Well, NASA - through the THEMIS mission has discovered that the tail of the magnetosphere will occasionally respond to the pressures placed against it my the streaming solar particles by "snapping back", just like a rubber band being stretched out.
The 'rebounds' of the electromagnetic shield around Earth can cause the aforementioned stupid term to occur. This can actually cause plasma jets to be 'thrown' toward the planet and the effects of these catapulting fields can be detected on Earth as trails of electrical particles that can interfere in devices like GPS and electrical grids.
What's more, these rebounding particles actually create vortices that encircle the planet in something akin to the electromagnetic version of tornadoes.
From the article, which you should immediately click and read for yourself....
"When plasma jets hit the inner magnetosphere, vortices with opposite sense of rotation appear and reappear on either side of the plasma jet," explains Rumi Nakamura of the Space Research Institute in Austria, a co-author of the study. "We believe the vortices can generate substantial electrical currents in the near-Earth environment."
Science is awesome. I wish I had known how awesome back in school.