A giant plasma wave blasted off from the sun and collided with Mercury, likely causing a magnetic storm and wiping material from planet surfaceThe powerful explosion, known as coronal mass ejection (CME), was seen emitting from far side of the sun It took less than a day to hit the planet closest to our star and the smallest in our solar system, where it may have created a temporary atmosphere, and even added material to Mercury’s comet-like tail.
According to the “RT” website, the plasma wave came from a sunspot, which are regions outside the sun where strong magnetic fields, resulting from the flow of electric charges, intertwine, before suddenly exploding.
Energy from this gravitational pull is released in bursts of radiation called solar flares or as waves of plasma (CME).
On planets that have strong magnetic fields, such as Earth, the ejected coronal planets are absorbed and cause strong geomagnetic storms.
During these storms, Earth’s magnetic field is compressed slightly by waves of high-energy particles, which flow down magnetic field lines near the poles and excite particles into the atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light to create colorful auroras in the night sky.
And “Live Science” previously reported that the movements of these electrically charged particles can stimulate magnetic fields strong enough to send satellites to Earth, and scientists have warned that these geomagnetic storms can paralyze the Internet.
Unlike Earth, Mercury does not have a very strong magnetic field. This fact, along with its close proximity to our star’s plasma emissions, means that it has long been stripped of any permanent atmosphere. The atoms remaining on Mercury are constantly lost to space, forming a comet-like tail of material ejected behind the planet.
But the solar wind, the constant flow of charged particles, the nuclei of elements such as helium, carbon, nitrogen, neon and magnesium from the Sun, and the tidal waves of particles from the coronal mass ejection constantly replenish the amounts of Mercury’s tiny atoms, giving it a thin layer of atmosphere.
Previously, scientists were not sure if Mercury’s magnetic field was strong enough to cause magnetic storms. However, the study, published in two papers in Nature Communications and Science China Technological Sciences in February, proves that the magnetic field is already strong enough.
The first paper showed that Mercury has a ring current, a circular cake-shaped stream of charged particles flowing around a field line between the planet’s poles, while the second paper indicated that this circular current is capable of stirring geomagnetic storms.
“The processes are quite similar to what happens here on Earth. The main differences are the size of the planet and Mercury has a weak magnetic field and no atmosphere at all,” Hui Zhang, co-author of both studies and professor of space physics at the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks Institute of Geophysics, said in a statement.
The sun’s activity is increasing much faster than previous official forecasts, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center. The sun moves between highest and lowest level of activity during an approximate 11-year cycle, but because the mechanism that drives this solar cycle is not well understood, it is difficult for scientists to predict its length and strength accurately.
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