Space isn’t silent. In fact, an entire orchestra of instruments fills our near-Earth environment with eerie sounds.
Space isn’t silent. In fact, an entire orchestra of instruments fills our near-Earth environment with eerie sounds. Scientists have long known about space phenomena involving electromagnetic waves travelling around Earth that resonate like string instruments and whistle like wind instruments. Now, new research published in Nature Communications has added a percussive member to the cosmic ensemble: a giant drum, triggered by plasma jets striking the boundary of the protective magnetic bubble surrounding our planet.
This magnetic bubble, known as the magnetosphere, is encased by a boundary region known as the magnetopause, our first barrier to high-energy particles coming from the Sun. At the magnetopause, the majority of solar particles are deflected around Earth, but under certain conditions some sneak through. Understanding the mechanics of the magnetopause is key to helping keep our satellites, telecommunications and astronauts safe from the potentially harmful radiation these particles bring.
Read more at NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center
Image: Different types of plasma waves triggered by various mechanisms, occupy different regions of space around Earth. CREDITS: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith