Supersonic Plasma Jets Discovered In Earth's Upper Atmosphere For The First Time

Posted: Apr 1 2017, 11:34am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Supersonic Plasma Jets Discovered in Earth's Upper Atmosphere for the First Time
ESA
  • Plasma Jets having Temperatures reaching 10,000 Degrees Celsius detected in Ionosphere

It looks to be the case that plasma jets having temperatures that reach 10,000 degrees Celsius have been detected in the ionosphere.

This is the first time that scientists have spotted supersonic plasma jets in the earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena are the reason why sometimes temperatures as high as 10,000 degrees Celsius are reached for brief periods of time.

These jets tend to change the ionosphere of the earth and also push the atmospheric layers up till they partially escape into the vacuum of space.

100 years ago, a Norwegian scientist by the name of Kristian Birkeland proposed that huge electric currents led by solar wind were making waves in the ionosphere.

The ionosphere is located at a height of roughly 75 km to 1000 km above the earth’s surface. In the 70s, scientists managed to send satellites to that height. That was when the existence of these electric currents was ratified.

Called Birkeland currents, these phenomena carry 1 TW of electric power to the upper atmosphere. That is a third of the total power usage in the United States.

These currents are also the reason behind the aurora borealis and aurora australis. These two lights illuminate the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Recently, the ESA sent three satellites to observe these currents between the ionosphere and the magnetosphere. The satellites detected large electrical fields which are acting in the designated area of the atmosphere. Now though plasma jets have also been detected.

These have been called Birkeland current boundary flows. The temperatures that are reached thanks to these phenomena are very high indeed. At 10,000 degrees Celsius, the chemical composition of the surrounding area changes radically.

The ionosphere starts to move upwards too. Thanks to research carried out by these satellites we now know that similar forces are at work in the core of the earth as are to be found in the ionosphere.

A flowing mass of molten iron was detected by these satellites some 3000 km beneath the surface of the earth (that is underneath Alaska and Siberia). This liquid heat flow is moving at a brisk pace towards Europe, according to ScienceAlert.

All this is linked to the magnetic fields of the earth. This furthermore shows us that there is more going on in the earth than is to be found in our puny classification systems.

Geology still needs a revolution which will lead to it becoming a more holistic science. The earth is like a single organism and acts like it too. Its magnetic system is one of the things that has the scientists perplexed. That is because it is whimsical and subject to change.

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