First known ‘space hurricane’ discovered by team of scientists, study says


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A phenomena being referred to as a “space hurricane” was discovered by a team of scientists from the United States, United Kingdom, Norway and China, according to a study published late last month in Nature Communications.

The study was focused on an event that occurred back in 2015. Researchers reviewed satellite images and other data and concluded that a space hurricane did form.

The storm lasted for roughly 8 hours and covered about 1000 kilometers. It was located directly above the North Pole, making it difficult to be seen.

Credit: Nature Communications

Above is an illustration from Nature Communications showing the setup of the space hurricane. The energy was located in the ionosphere and rather than precipitating rain, it produced electrons.

A 3-D rendering of the event created by Qing-He Zhang shows its size, shape and depth:

Credit: Qing-He Zhang

It is yet to be determined how frequently space hurricanes occur, and the effects of one may not be felt on the Earth’s surface.

When solar activity picks up, the aurora borealis or “northern lights” can potentially be viewed from lower latitudes, away from the North Pole. But with a space hurricane, due to its more localized impact and smaller size, you won’t see as much unless you’re directly under the storm.

However, as we advance our technology in space, there could eventually be impacts to GPS systems and satellites.

Be sure to connect with 12 News Meteorologist Steven Matregrano on social media:

Facebook – Steven Matregrano WPRI
Twitter – smatregranoWPRI
Instagram – smatregrano

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