A dangerous geomagnetic storm struck Earth and cracked open its magnetic field

The magnetic field of the Earth were broken apart as solar winds rushed inside the protective shield of the planet and caused a 14 hours long geomagnetic storm.

A strange and dangerous event took place in the magnetosphere of the Earth on July 7, when an unexpected geomagnetic storm struck the planet and cracked open the Earth’s magnetic field, the primary shield from all solar radiation and magnetic flux. It turned out that as the crack opened up on the magnetosphere, fast moving solar winds rushed inside the Earth’s atmosphere and caused auroras. A similar phenomenon was observed in June but this time, it lasted an unusually long period of 14 hours. So, how exactly did a crack form in the Earth’s magnetic field and how devastating were its effects? Read on to find out.

The event has been widely captured by aurora enthusiasts and astronomy lovers who took pictures of the night sky as a G1-class geomagnetic storm rushed in through the cracks of the Earth’s magnetic field. The geomagnetic storm even managed to reach the mid latitudes which is usually not possible for a minor G1 storm.

A crack in the magnetic field of Earth causes a surprise geomagnetic storm

It turns out that the phenomenon is neither dangerous nor abnormal. According to SpaceWeather.com, it was caused by a co-rotating interaction region (CIR). A co-rotating interaction region or CIR is the region where two different streams of solar winds collide. As solar winds carry magnetic flux, it stretches open the Earth’s magnetic field causing cracks within itself. But what was unusual in this instance is that CIRs do not last longer than a couple of hours but this one stayed on for more than 14 hours. It is believed that due to increasing solar activity, the speed of solar winds are also increasing, causing strong CIR effects.

But one question still remains. Is it safe? And as it turns out, yes it is. These cracks are temporary and as soon as the effect reverses, the magnetic field repairs itself. NASA in a blog post explains it. “We’ve discovered that our magnetic shield is drafty, like a house with a window stuck open during a storm. The house deflects most of the storm, but the couch is ruined. Similarly, our magnetic shield takes the brunt of space storms, but some energy slips through its cracks, sometimes enough to cause problems with satellites, radio communication, and power systems,” said Harald Frey of the University of California, Berkeley and lead author of a paper on the study of this phenomenon.

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