We may have finally found the structure that lets animals detect Earth’s magnetic field .


This could be the key to animal navigation.

 

Scientists have long known that animals have some kind of internal compass that allows them to use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. This ability allows species such as the monarch butterfly to travel up to an incredible 5,000 km across the US to the exact same location, year after year, and the Arctic tern to travel 71,000 km between Greenland and Antarctica annually. But these magnetic fields are pretty much invisible to humans, and we’ve never been able to find the sensor that lets animals to detect them.

Now a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin in the US has identified a tiny antenna-like structure in the brain of worms that allows them to sense Earth’s magnetic field, and they suspect the same structure could be the key to helping other species navigate, too.

“Chances are that the same molecules will be used by cuter animals like butterflies and birds,” one of the researchers, Jon Pierce-Shimomura, said in a press release. “This gives us a first foothold in understanding magnetosensation in other animals.”

Back in 2012, scientists found cells in pigeons that process information about magnetic fields, but this is the first time researchers have ever found the actual sensor in animals.

“It’s been a competitive race to find the first magnetosensory neuron,” said Pierce-Shimomura. “And we think we’ve won with worms, which is a big surprise because no one suspected that worms could sense the Earth’s magnetic field.”

The team made the discovery while conducting Alzheimer’s research in small soil worms, C. elegansThey noticed that when worms from Texas soil were hungry, they moved downwards to look for food. But worms that came from other parts of the world – Hawaii England and Australia, for example – didn’t move down; they moved at a precise angle to the magnetic field that would have corresponded to down if they’d been in their home country.

The team then altered the magnetic field around the worms’ enclosure using a special magnetic coil system, and found that they changed their behaviour accordingly.

But the real breakthrough came when they worked with worms that had been genetically engineered to block a structure called the AFD neuron from forming in the brain. These worms didn’t change their behaviour when the magnetic fields around their enclosure were altered – in fact, they seemed unable to detect the magnetic fields at all.

The AFD neuron is a tiny structure at the end of a neuron that gives worms the ability to sense carbon dioxide levels and temperature while underground. To confirm its additional role in sensing magnetic fields, the team used a technique called calcium imaging to show that changes in the magnetic field caused the AFD neuron to light up. Their findings have been published in the journal eLife

The next step will be to confirm that this AFD neuron exists in other species and that it works in the same way. If that’s the case, we might finally have an explanation for the incredible navigation abilities of animals, and perhaps a roadmap for how humans could one day achieve the same ability.

Researchers discover first sensor of Earth’s magnetic field in an animal


A team of scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has identified the first sensor of the Earth’s magnetic field in an animal, finding in the brain of a tiny worm a big clue to a long-held mystery about how animals’ internal compasses work.

Animals as diverse as migrating geese, sea turtles and wolves are known to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. But until now, no one has pinpointed quite how they do it. The sensor, found in worms called C. elegans, is a microscopic structure at the end of a neuron that other animals probably share, given similarities in brain structure across species. The sensor looks like a nano-scale TV antenna, and the worms use it to navigate underground.

“Chances are that the same molecules will be used by cuter animals like butterflies and birds,” said Jon Pierce-Shimomura, assistant professor of neuroscience in the College of Natural Sciences and member of the research team. “This gives us a first foothold in understanding magnetosensation in other animals.”

The researchers discovered that hungry worms in gelatin-filled tubes tend to move down, a strategy they might use when searching for food.

When the researchers brought worms into the lab from other parts of the world, the worms didn’t all move down. Depending on where they were from—Hawaii, England or Australia, for example—they moved at a precise angle to the magnetic field that would have corresponded to down if they had been back home. For instance, Australian worms moved upward in tubes. The magnetic field’s orientation varies from spot to spot on Earth, and each worm’s magnetic field sensor system is finely tuned to its local environment, allowing it to tell up from down.

The research is published today in the journal eLife.

The study’s lead author is Andrés Vidal-Gadea, a former postdoctoral researcher in the College of Natural Sciences at UT Austin, now a faculty member at Illinois State University. He noted that C. elegans is just one of myriad species living in the soil, many of which are known to migrate vertically.

“I’m fascinated by the prospect that magnetic detection could be widespread across soil dwelling organisms,” said Vidal-Gadea.

The neuroscientists and engineers, who use C. elegans in their research into Alzheimer’s disease and addiction, had previously discovered the worm’s ability to sense humidity. That work led them to ask what else the worms might be able to sense, such as magnetic fields.

In 2012, scientists from Baylor College of Medicine announced the discovery of brain cells in pigeons that process information about magnetic fields, but they did not discover which part of the body senses the fields. That team and others have proposed a magnetosensor in the birds’ inner ear.

“It’s been a competitive race to find the first magnetosensory neuron,” said Pierce-Shimomura. “And we think we’ve won with worms, which is a big surprise because no one suspected that worms could sense the Earth’s magnetic field.”

The neuron sporting a , called an AFD neuron, was already known to sense carbon dioxide levels and temperature.

The researchers discovered the worms’ magnetosensory abilities by altering the magnetic field around them with a special magnetic coil system and then observing changes in behavior. They also showed that worms which were genetically engineered to have a broken AFD neuron did not orient themselves up and down as do normal . Finally, the researchers used a technique called calcium imaging to demonstrate that changes in the cause the AFD neuron to activate.

NASA Discovers Hidden Portals In Earth’s Magnetic Field


Our planet has come a long way in scientific breakthroughs and discoveries. Mainstream science is beginning to discover new concepts of reality that have the potential to change our perception about our planet and the extraterrestrial environment that surrounds it forever. Star gates, wormholes, and portals have been the subject of conspiracy theories and theoretical physics for decades, but that is all coming to an end as we continue to grow in our understanding about the true nature of our reality.

 

In physics, a wormhole was a hypothetical feature of space time that would be a shortcut through space-time. We often wonder how extraterrestrials could travel so far and this could be one of many explanations. Although scientists still don’t really understand what they have found, it does open the mind to many possibilities.

NASA Discovers Hidden Portals In Earth’s Magnetic FieldTurning science fiction into science fact seems to happen quite often these days and NASA did it by announcing the discovery of hidden portals in Earth’s magnetic field.

NASA calls them X-points or electron diffusion regions. They are places where the magnetic field of Earth connects to the magnetic field of the Sun, which in turn creates an uninterrupted path leading from our own planet to the sun’s atmosphere which is 93 million miles away.

NASA used its THEMIS spacecraft, as well as a European Cluster probe, to examine this phenomenon. They found that these portals open and close dozens of times each day. It’s funny, because there is a lot of evidence that points toward the sun being a giant star gate for the ‘gods’ to pass back and forth from other dimensions and universes. The portals that NASA has discovered are usually located tens of thousands of kilometres from Earth and most of them are short-lived; others are giant, vast and sustained.

As far as scientists can determine, these portals aid in the transfer of tons of magnetically charged particles that flow from the Sun causing the northern and southerns lights and geomagnetic storms. They aid in the transfer of the magnetic field from the Sun to the Earth. In 2014, the U.S. space agency will launch a new mission called Magnetospheric Multi scale Mission (MMS) which will include four spacecraft that will circle the Earth to locate and then study these portals. They are located where the Earth and the Sun’s magnetic fields connect and where the unexplained portals are formed.

NASA funded the University of Iowa for this study, and they are still unclear as to what these portals are. All they have done is observed charged particles flowing through them that cause electro-magnetic phenomenon in Earth’s atmosphere.

Magnetic portals are invisible, unstable and elusive. they open and close without warming and there are no signposts to guide is in – Dr Scudder, University of Iowa

Mainstream science continues to grow further, but I often get confused between mainstream science, and science that is formed in the black budget world. It seems that information and discovery isn’t information and discovery without the type of ‘proof’ that the human race requires. Given that the human race requires, and has a certain criteria for ‘proof’, which has been taught to us by the academic world, information can easily be suppressed by concealing that ‘proof’.

It’s no secret that the department of defence receives trillions of dollars that go unaccounted for and everything developed within the United States Air Force Space Agency remains classified. They are able to classify information for the sake of ‘national security’. Within the past few years, proof has been emerging for a number of phenomenon that would suggest a whole other scientific world that operates separately from mainstream science.

We have the technology to take ET home, anything you can imagine we already have the technology to do, but these technologies are locked up in black budget projects. It would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity – Ben Rich, Fmr CEO of LockHeed Skunk Works

I use this video a lot in many of my posts, but it is just a profound statement, I love to use it over and over. He is x NASA personnel so it kind of fits in with the article.

Sources for this article:
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/29jun_hiddenportals/http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/mag-portals.html
Source: Collective Evolution

 

INVISIBLE SHIELD PROTECT US FROM SUN’S HIGH-ENERGY RADIATION


Scientists have discovered an invisible shield roughly 7,200 miles (11,600 km) above Earth, that blocks Sun’s high-energy radiation.

Sun’s high-energy radiation composed by so-called “killer electrons,” can fry satellites, degrade space systems during intense solar storms, radically change the planet’s climate and drive up rates of cancer.

An-invisible-shield-protect-us-from-Suns-high-energy-radiation-1-640x632

What’s keeping this high-energy radiation at bay seems to be neither the Earth’s magnetic field nor long-range radio waves, but rather a phenomenon termed “plasmaspheric hiss” — very low-frequency electromagnetic waves in the Earth’s upper atmosphere that, when played through a speaker, resemble static, or white noise.

Professor Daniel Baker from the University of Colorado Boulder, said:

“It’s almost like these electrons are running into a glass wall.”

John Foster, associate director of MIT’s Haystack Observatory, said:

“It’s a very unusual, extraordinary, and pronounced phenomenon. What this tells us is if you parked a satellite or an orbiting space station with humans just inside this impenetrable barrier, you would expect them to have much longer lifetimes. That’s a good thing to know.”

This image shows a color-coded geographic representation of ultra-relativistic electron fluxes, based on orbital tracks of the Van Allen Probe B spacecraft projected onto the geographical equatorial plane. As the spacecraft processes in its elliptical orbit around the Earth, it forms a “spirograph” pattern in the Earth-centered coordinate system. Inside of this radial distance is an almost complete absence of electrons, forming the “slot” region. The superimposed circle shows a sharp, distinctive inner boundary for ultra-relativistic electrons, and how generally symmetric this boundary is around Earth. Courtesy of the reasearchers/Haystack Observatory

Mary Hudson, a professor of physics at Dartmouth College, says the data from the Van Allen probes “are providing remarkably detailed measurements” of the Earth’s radiation belts and their boundaries.

She said:

“These new observations confirm, over the two years since launch of the Van Allen probes, the persistence of this inner boundary, which places additional constraints on theories of particle acceleration and loss in magnetized astrophysical systems.”

Magnetic fields and the science of biblical creation.


The exponential decay of planetary magnetic fields is one of the strongest scientific arguments that supports the young age of the earth and the solar system. As such it is no surprise that skeptics attack this idea. D.O. from the United States writes concerning some such objections:

Earth-magnetic-field

Hello Dr. Sarfati:
I have a couple of questions about Humphreys’s rapid decay model of Earth’s magnetic field. I couldn’t find anything on the CMI website that directly addresses these questions, but I apologize if I missed them.

One evolutionist I am debating argued that Lenz’s law implies that nature resists a change in magnetic flux. He used the example of “suddenly turn[ing] on a magnetic field going through a conducting loop, the loop will generate a current to form a magnetic field in the opposite direction to try and keep a magnetic flux of zero.” He says that “changing a magnetic flux generates an electromotive force that tries to oppose the change in flux” and used that to argue that fluctuation is much more likely than exponential decay when it comes to Earth’s magnetic field. Is his argument valid at all?

Also, is it true that if the magnetic field strength of the earth is decaying, its rotation speed must be increasing over time, to conserve angular momentum?

Thanks for your time and help.

Such systems will decay exponentially, as is well known in physics.

CMI’s Dr Jonathan Sarfati responds:

Hi Mr O.

Thank you for asking.

This evo really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Yes, there is such a thing as Lenz’s Law, which states that an induced current is always in such a direction as to oppose the motion or change causing it. But it will not overcompensate the way he is claiming. Rather, the induced current is caused by the field decay, so it will be in the direction of the original field. The decay is a negative of the original, so the induced field will be a positive. But it will never be as great (otherwise a perpetual motion machine would be possible, and this violates the second law of thermodynamics). Thus such systems will decay exponentially, as is well known in physics (as explained in my article The earth’s magnetic field: evidence that the earth is young).

As for the second question, there doesn’t seem to be a connection, because the field has no mass, while angular momentum involves mass.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for your response, it was very helpful. Regarding the second question, I understand what you mean about angular momentum, but the reason I asked it is the evolutionist I was debating said that “a magnetic field is angular momentum density,” and then went on to say that if the magnetic field was decaying, the angular momentum would have to “go somewhere” and would cause an increase in the rotation speed of earth. Is there such a connection between the magnetic field and angular momentum?

Hi again

OK, then ask this critic some questions. We know that the rotational angular momentum of the earth (L0) is given by its angular velocity (ω) times its moment of inertia, which to a good approximation is given by the formula for a solid uniform sphere (I = 2 /5 Mr2 ). See more at Slipshod logic in Creation for Kids? (scroll down a fair way). OK, so what is his formula for the angular momentum of the magnetic field? Let him prove that it would cause a measurable slowdown by working it out quantitatively (if he can even find a formula).

Hope this helps.

Thank you for your insight. I asked the evolutionist what formula he would use for the angular momentum of the earth’s magnetic field, and he said:

“You haven’t had any actual education in electricity and magnetism, have you? A magnetic field is angular momentum density. It’s given by c^-2(r x (E x H) ) r, E, and H being the vectors of the position, electric field, and magnetic field, respectively. Where would the angular momentum go [in Humphreys’s model of magnetic field decay]?” I also found a website that discusses this formula. What am I missing?

The evolutionist also claimed that Lenz’s law would imply that “the nature of magnetism is oscillatory because Nature Abhors A Change In Flux,” and that the correct graph for Humphreys’s model would be a “damped oscillator” rather than an exponential curve. Is this correct?

By the way, I am granting permission to publish any of our email exchange on the CMI website if you wish to, I would just ask that you use my initials and not my full name if you decide to do so.

Hi again

This formula is not relevant to what is being discussed here.

Exponential decay is a very well-known phenomenon, and the way it works here would not be a damped oscillator. Rather, Dr Humphreys himself has written an update in the CRSQ this year, and the main phenomenon is exponential decay (so where would angular momentum go in a typical RI circuit), as per the laws of electromagnetism. There is a small sinusoidal component, which doesn’t affect the long-term energy loss, but nothing like a damped oscillator.

Regards

Jonathan Sarfati

 

Source: http://creation.com

 

Hypersensitive Wires Feel the (Electromagnetic) Force.


The ability to pack bits of data on computer hard drives has skyrocketed more than 10,000-fold over the past 3 decades. You can now fit more than 100 Hollywood movies on the average machine. One reason has been the steady improvement in sensors used to read and write bits of data in the magnetic materials used to make the disks. Now researchers describe the most powerful such sensing material yet to work at room temperature. The discovery may open the door not just to reading out smaller data bits, but also to a wide range of improved magnetic technologies such as making cheaper touch screen displays.

At the heart of data reading and recording devices is a property called magnetoresistance (MR), in which the electrical resistance of a material changes in response to the presence of an external magnetic field. Turn on a magnetic field, and the material’s ability to carry an electric current skyrockets or plummets in response. Early MR materials changed their resistance only by a few percent at room temperature. Giant magnetoresistive materials discovered in the late 1980s pushed the number up to 110%. And researchers in Japan raised it to 600% in 2002 with the discovery of materials that carry out something called tunnel magnetoresistance. But now all those numbers pale in comparison, as a paper published online today inScience reports that molecular wires are capable of a 2000% magnetoresistance change at room temperature .

Ironically, the new molecular wires aren’t made with magnetic materials at all. Rather, their MR effect relies on the conductivity of nonmagnetic organic dye molecules called DXP, which the Italian automaker Ferrari once used to give their roadsters their trademark red color. Unlike conventional inorganic metals in which electrons zip through a crystalline lattice, in organics electrons must hop from one molecule to another, like pails of water being passed by a bucket brigade. To create a MR, material researchers need to switch off that bucket brigade in the presence of a magnetic field.

In organic materials researchers do this with a little help from quantum mechanics. A tenet of quantum mechanics called the Pauli Exclusion Principle states that no two fermions (particles in a family that includes electrons) can occupy the same quantum state. If two electrons with the same quantum state try to hop onto the same DXP, they can’t. The bucket brigade turns off and resistance skyrockets.

But over the past several years, researchers have found that thin films of DXPs or other organic conductors have an MR well below the competition. The reason for this turned out to be another quantum mechanical property. In addition to carrying a negative electric charge, electrons also carry spin, which can point up or down like a tiny bar magnet. If two electrons have the same spin, they can’t hop on the same DXP together. But if one electron’s spin flips to the opposite direction, then it’s no problem. The two can hop on one DXP together, and the bucket brigade continues.

In their work with films of DXPs and other organics, researchers found that two problems prevented the films from acting like good MR materials. First, thermal fluctuations at room temperature flipped electron spins. And second, even if electrons did share the same spin direction—and were thus blocked from hopping onto the same DXP—they just jumped to a neighbor that wasn’t blocked. “If it’s a 3D film, you can always go around the blockade,” says Markus Wohlgenannt, a physicist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, whose team was one of the first to discover organic MR materials.

To prevent this runaround, researchers led by Wilfred van der Wiel, a physicist at the University of Twente in the Netherlands sought to arrange the DXPs in straight lines. To do so, they essentially shoved them inside the narrow pores of a zeolite, a lattice-like mineral, in which the confines were so tight the organics had no choice but to line up. They then placed their zeolite atop a conductive surface with the pores facing up and used the tip of an atomic force microscope to make contact with individual DXPs at the top end of single pores. The lineup of DXPs obviously meant that electrons could no longer hop around a blockade. But they also found that even very small magnetic fields were enough to prevent thermal fluctuations from flipping electron spins. And the result was that when electrons encountered blockages, they were unable to work around them, and the resistance of the material shot upwards.

Wohlgenannt calls the new work “a groundbreaking paper.” That said, he adds that it’s not clear if this will lead to higher capacity disc drives. For starters, researchers must first pull off the effect without the use of atomic force microscopes, which aren’t a practical addition to disk drive technology. Researchers will probably also need to figure out ways to push higher electrical currents through the molecular wires to make magnetic sensors that can compete with current technology. But even if the new materials aren’t ideal for making better disk drives, Wohngenannt and van der Wiel say the powerful MR effect might still make them useful for other electronics applications such as pen-based touch screens that are responsive to a magnetic stylus or perhaps even improved magnetic sensors in smart phones that are able to pick up the Earth’s magnetic field and use that for improved navigation.

Source: sciencemag.org

 

NASA Discovers Hidden Portals In Earth’s Magnetic Field.


 

nasa

Our planet has come a long way in scientific breakthroughs and discoveries. Mainstream science is beginning to discover new concepts of reality that have the potential to change our perception about our planet and the extraterrestrial environment that surrounds it forever. Star gates, wormholes, and portals have been the subject of conspiracy theories and theoretical physics for decades, but that is all coming to an end as we continue to grow in our understanding about the true nature of our reality.

In physics, a wormhole was a hypothetical feature of space time that would be a shortcut through space-time. We often wonder how extraterrestrials could travel so far and this could be one of many explanations. Although scientists still don’t really understand what they have found, it does open the mind to many possibilities.

Turning science fiction into science fact seems to happen quite often these days and NASA did it by announcing the discovery of hidden portals in Earth’s magnetic field.  NASA calls them X-points or electron diffusion regions. They are places where the magnetic field of Earth connects to the magnetic field of the Sun, which in turn creates an uninterrupted path leading from our own planet to the sun’s atmosphere which is 93 million miles away.

NASA used its THEMIS spacecraft, as well as a European Cluster probe, to examine this phenomenon. They found that these portals open and close dozens of times each day. It’s funny, because there is a lot of evidence that points toward the sun being a giant star gate for the ‘gods’ to pass back and forth from other dimensions and universes. The portals that NASA has discovered are usually located tens of thousands of kilometres from Earth and most of them are short-lived; others are giant, vast and sustained.

As far as scientists can determine, these portals aid in the transfer of tons of magnetically charged particles that flow from the Sun causing the northern and southerns lights and geomagnetic storms. They aid in the transfer of the magnetic field from the Sun to the Earth. In 2014, the U.S. space agency will launch a new mission called Magnetospheric Multi scale Mission (MMS) which will include four spacecraft that will circle the Earth to locate and then study these portals. They are located where the Earth and the Sun’s magnetic fields connect and where the unexplained portals are formed.

NASA funded the University of Iowa for this study, and they are still unclear as to what these portals are. All they have done is observed charged particles flowing through them that cause electro-magnetic phenomenon in Earth’s atmosphere.

Magnetic portals are invisible, unstable and elusive. they open and close without warming and there are no signposts to guide is in – Dr Scudder, University of Iowa

Mainstream science continues to grow further, but I often get confused between mainstream science, and science that is formed in the black budget world. It seems that information and discovery isn’t information and discovery without the type of ‘proof’ that the human race requires. Given that the human race requires, and has a certain criteria for ‘proof’, which has been taught to us by the academic world, information can easily be suppressed by concealing that ‘proof’. It’s no secret that the department of defence receives trillions of dollars that go unaccounted for and everything developed within the United States Air Force Space Agency remains classified. They are able to classify information for the sake of ‘national security’. Within the past few years, proof has been emerging for a number of phenomenon that would suggest a whole other scientific world that operates separately from mainstream science.

We have the technology to take ET home, anything you can imagine we already have the technology to do, but these technologies are locked up in black budget projects. It would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity – Ben Rich, Fmr CEO of LockHeed Skunk Works

I use this video a lot in many of my posts, but it is just a profound statement, I love to use it over and over. He is x NASA personnel so it kind of fits in with the article.

Sources:

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/29jun_hiddenportals/

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/mag-portals.html

NASA STEREO Observes One of the Fastest CMEs On Record.


On July 23, 2012, a massive cloud of solar material erupted off the sun’s right side, zooming out into space, passing one of NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft along the way. Using the STEREO data, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. clocked this giant cloud, known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, as traveling between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second as it left the sun.

Conversations began to buzz and the emails to fly: this was the fastest CME ever observed by STEREO, which since its launch in 2006 has helped make CME speed measurements much more precise. Such an unusually strong bout of space weather gives scientists an opportunity to observe how these events affect the space around the sun, as well as to improve their understanding of what causes them.

“Between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second puts it without question as one of the top five CMEs ever measured by any spacecraft,” says solar scientist Alex Young at Goddard. “And if it’s at the top of that velocity range it’s probably the fastest.”

The STEREO mission consists of two spacecraft with orbits that for most of their journey give them views of the sun that cannot be had from Earth. Watching the sun from all sides helps improve our understanding of how events around the sun are connected, as well as gives us glimpses of activity we might not otherwise see. On July 23, STEREO-A lay – from Earth’s perspective — to the right side and a little behind the sun, the perfect place for seeing this CME, which would otherwise have been hard to measure from Earth. The Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), an ESA and NASA mission, also observed the CME. It is the combination of observations from both missions that helps make scientists confident in the large velocities they measured for this event.

Measuring a CME at this speed, traveling in a direction safely away from Earth, represents a fantastic opportunity for researchers studying the sun’s effects. Rebekah Evans is a space scientist working at Goddard’s Space Weather Lab, which works to improve models that could some day be used to improve predictions of space weather and its effects. She says that the team categorizes CMEs for their research in terms of their speed, with the fastest ones – such as this one — labeled “ER” for Extremely Rare.

“Seeing a CME this fast, really is so unusual,” says Evans. “And now we have this great chance to study this powerful space weather, to better understand what causes these great explosions, and to improve our models to incorporate what happens during events as rare as these.”

Orbiting the sun some 89,000,000 miles away, STEREO-A could observe the speed of the CME as it burst from the sun, and it provided even more data some 17 hours later as the CME physically swept by – having slowed down by then to about 750 miles per second. STEREO has instruments to measure the magnetic field strength, which in this case was four times as strong as the most common CMEs. When a CME with strong magnetic fields arrives near Earth, it can cause something called a geomagnetic storm that disrupts Earth’s own magnetic environment and can potentially affect satellite operations or in worst-case scenarios induce electric currents in the ground that can affect power grids.

“We measure magnetic fields in ‘Tesla’ and this CME was 80 nanoTesla,” says Antti Pulkkinen, who is also a space weather scientist at Goddard. “This magnetic field is substantially larger even than the CMEs that caused large geomagnetic storms near Earth in October 2003. We call those storms the Halloween storms and scientists still study them to this day.”

While large, this measurement of the magnetic field is still smaller than one of the greatest space weather events on record, the Carrington Event of 1859, during which the magnetic fields at Earth measured 110 nanoTesla.

When the CME passes over one of the STEREO spacecraft, the instruments can also measure the direction in which the magnetic field points – a crucial data point since it is the southward pointing magnetic fields in a CME that travel in the opposite direction of Earth’s own magnetic fields and thus can cause the most disruption. This CME traveled with an unusually large southward magnetic field of 40 nanoTesla that stayed steady for several hours.

The event also pushed a burst of fast protons out from the sun. The number of charged particles near STEREO jumped 100,000 times within an hour of the CME’s start. When such bursts of solar particles invade Earth’s magnetic field they are referred to as a solar radiation storm, and they can block high frequency radio communications as used, for example, by airline pilots. Like the CME, this solar energetic particle (SEP) event is also the most intense ever measured by STEREO. While the CME was not directed toward Earth, the SEP did – at a much lower intensity than at STEREO – affect Earth as well, offering scientists a chance to study how such events can widen so dramatically as they travel through space.

Evans points out that all of this solar activity was produced by a specific active region that NASA’s space weather scientists had been watching for three weeks before the super fast eruption on July 23.

“That active region was called AR 1520, and it produced four fairly fast CME’s in Earth’s direction before it rotated out of sight off the right limb of the sun,” says Evans. “So even though the region had released multiple CMEs and even had an X-class flare, its strength kept increasing over time to eventually produce this giant explosion. To try to understand how that change happens makes for very exciting research.”

STEREO is but one of several missions that observe the sun constantly, and the data is always interesting as there is much to be learned from observing the quiet sun as well as an active one. But the sun displays an activity cycle during which it gets more active approximately every 11 years as it heads toward what’s called “solar maximum.” The next solar maximum is currently predicted for 2013. We can expect more and more space weather events until then, and each one will help scientists better understand the sun and how its effects can permeate the entire solar system.

 

 

Karen C. Fox
Source: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center