Qing-He Zhang, Shandong University space hurricane
Watch out, Santa Claus!
Last year, scientists announced that they had discovered the presence of “space hurricanes”, which measure more than 600 miles in diameter with multiple arms that rotate clockwise and include a center calm. Now they have learned when, where and how these cyclone-like auroras form, according to a new study.
After examining more than 300 space hurricanes from 2005 to 2016, researchers found that space hurricanes form at high latitudes near the North Pole and can spin for eight hours, according to The Washington Post. On the other hand, the typical auroras of last minutes.
What’s more, the researchers found that they formed at times of “low solar and otherwise low geomagnetic activity” and were most commonly seen during summer afternoons.
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Encyclopedia Britannica/Uig/Shutterstock space hurricane
“[They’re] occurring where no one was looking and occurring under conditions where no one thought anything was happening,” said UCLA space physicist Larry Lyons. The Washington Post. “It’s just a matter of opening your eyes.”
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Lyons said The Washington Post that people on the ground could see a space hurricane if they were at about 80 degrees north latitude near the North Pole. The physicist added that astronauts could also likely spot them from the International Space Station.
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As for the impact they can have, space hurricanes are known to affect satellite communication and navigation systems, two co-authors of the new study told the journal.
“From a communications and navigation point of view, it looks like this will be something we’ll want to add to our predictions for aircraft flying on polar routes,” said Qing-He Zhang, a professor at the Institute of Science. and space physics in China. written in a press release.
Although Zhang said “the study of space hurricanes is just beginning,” the expert said they don’t pose a great risk to human or space health.