Storms Shock the Magnetosphere

Magnetic storms can occur when a CME hits Earth’s magnetosphere. Magnetic storms . . .

  • Generate million-amp electric currents that distort the magnetosphere and flow down into our upper atmosphere Most of the high-energy, electrically charged particles in Earth’s magnetosphere are trapped in two doughnut-shaped belts surrounding Earth: the Van Allen radiation belts. These belts of dangerous particles were the first major discovery of the Space Age.
  • Disturb the Van Allen radiation belts, which become filled with "killer electrons" that can pierce the skin of a satellite and the cells of an astronaut
  • Cause spectacular, widespread auroras, even at low latitudes
  • Damage power systems on Earth and interfere with broadcasting

  The Space Weather Center is part of the National Space Weather Program, with funding provided by NASA and the National Science Foundation.  

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