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    Earth’s Magnetic Shield Vital for Humanity Cracked, Indian Researchers Discover

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    Earth’s magnetosphere, an invisible and highly-charged atmospheric layer that protects life on the planet from external radiation, was briefly cracked, Indian scientists have revealed, after analyzing a powerful geomagnetic storm from last year that was caused by the Sun.

    ​The blast was registered in June 2015 after a huge cloud of plasma released from the Sun struck the Earth at a speed of some 2.5 million kph.

    The report in Physical Review Letters states that the impact of the solar storm caused the Earth’s magnetic shield to compress, leading to massive geomagnetic atmospheric anomalies. Storm effects included aurora borealis and radio signal interruptions across several continents.

    ​At the time, India’s GRAPES-3 muon telescope, the world’s most sensitive cosmic-ray monitoring system, recorded a powerful blast of solar energy that lasted for over two hours.

    Having analyzed the data, a GRAPES-3 team of researchers from India and Japan performed simulations that pointed to the possibility that the planet’s magnetic shield opened for a brief period of time, allowing cosmic ray particles to enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

    "It indicates a transient weakening of Earth's magnetic shield, and may hold clues for a better understanding of future superstorms that could cripple modern technological infrastructure on Earth, and endanger the lives of the astronauts in space," the report says.

    The magnetosphere, the Earth’s energetic protecting shield, prevents the highly-dangerous radiation of the Sun from destroying life on the planet. However, powerful geomagnetic storms can deform the magnetosphere, allowing energetic particles to reach the surface.


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