cduhamel sent this in — NASA researchers have discovered a giant breach in the Earth’s magnetic field.
“The opening was huge””four times wider than Earth itself,” says Wenhui Li, a space physicist at the University of New Hampshire who has been analyzing the data. Li’s colleague Jimmy Raeder, also of New Hampshire, says “1027 particles per second were flowing into the magnetosphere, that’s a 1 followed by 27 zeros. This kind of influx is an order of magnitude greater than what we thought was possible.”
This means we can expect more serious magnetic storms and their effects in coming years. How serious this is seems to be unknown, but speculation is rampant depending on where you look.
The years ahead could be especially lively. Raeder explains: “We’re entering Solar Cycle 24. For reasons not fully understood, CMEs in even-numbered solar cycles (like 24) tend to hit Earth with a leading edge that is magnetized north. Such a CME should open a breach and load the magnetosphere with plasma just before the storm gets underway. It’s the perfect sequence for a really big event.”