Magnetic storms are a fairly common occurrence. Under certain circumstances, they can disrupt radio communications and even disable a satellite. In addition, they affect the well-being of people. It was previously believed that magnetic storms form far from the Earth, however, recent studies have proved that the phenomenon can originate almost next to our planet.
Magnetic storms occur when the energy of the solar wind is transferred to the Earth's magnetosphere. There, it accumulates and is converted into heat and fast-moving particles. New NASA studies show that magnetic storms can be triggered by magnetic reconnection much closer to Earth than previously thought.
During the analysis of data from the THEMIS satellites in geostationary orbit, NASA scientists reported the discovery of magnetic reconnection at a distance of about three to four diameters of the Earth from our planet. This observation puzzled meteorologists who were now unable to predict exactly where magnetic reconnection occurs during storms.
According to the researchers, new data in the future will allow a more effective response to magnetic storms, which will make it possible to prepare satellites and astronauts in advance for the consequences of this dangerous phenomenon.