The News Today
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1.23.20
Stormy Space Weather

Here’s What Happens When a Solar Storm Slams Into the Earth

November 18th 19__Victor Tangermann__Filed Under: Hard Science
ESA

Eerie Song

A team of scientists from the University of Helsinki used data collected by the European Space Agency’s Cluster mission — an investigation into the Earth’s magnetic field using a constellation of four spacecraft — to map out the “eerie song” that the Earth sings when bombarded by electrically charged particles from the Sun.

The research could allow us to understand disturbances in space weather and how they affect technology both on the ground and in space. It could also teach us about the magnetic fields of distant exoplanets and how they’re affected by their parent star.

Coronal Mass Ejection

Solar winds occur when particles are released by the Sun and flow into other parts of the Solar System. A solar storm, or coronal mass ejection, occurs when the Sun shoots out a burst of plasma, caused by a release of magnetic energy. Such a storm is so powerful that it can temporarily change the shape of the Earth’s magnetic field.

The team studied the foreshocks — the regions the solar storm’s particles hit first when approaching Earth — and discovered the magnetic waves that were released as a result were far more complex than they initially thought.

“We always expected a change in frequency but not the level of complexity in the wave,” team lead Lucile Turc from the University of Helsinki, Finland said in a statement.

The scientists then turned these magnetic waves into audible sounds, resulting in alien-sounding bleeps and bloops.

READ MORE: Earth’s magnetic song recorded for the first time during a solar storm [ESA]

More on solar winds: We May Have Finally Solved the Mystery of Solar Flares