In a startling finding, Indian telescope GRAPES-3 has detected a crack in the magnetic shield of Earth.
The detailed study and the findings have been published in the Physical Reviews Letters.
The said crack may prove harmful as it has allowed deadly cosmic ray particles to enter the atmosphere of the Earth. This rupture in the magnetic shield was detected by GRAPES-3, which is also the largest and the most sensitive cosmic ray monitoring system on Earth. It is located in Ooty, India, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research's (TIFR) Cosmic Ray Laboratory.
Scientists found that the telescope had recorded a two-hour burst of galactic cosmic rays of around 20 GeV on 22 June 2015. The reason for the burst was attributed to the ejection of a huge cloud of plasma from the Sun's corona, reports Nature World News. This cloudburst struck Earth at a super high speed of 2.5 million kilometers per hour, leading to a severe compression of Earth's magnetosphere.
The strong impact caused an intense geomagnetic storm, resulting in aurora and radio signal blackouts in many countries, situated at high latitude. After the burst, the GRAPES-3 collaboration that includes scientists from India and Japan did a detailed study and performed numerical simulations. The simulations revealed that the magnetic shield of Earth had weakened temporarily and it allowed the lower energy cosmic rays to enter the atmosphere of Earth.
The shield bent the particles about 180 degrees and from the day-side to the night-side of the Earth. Using the 1280-core computing farm, developed by the team at GRAPES-3, the scientists analyzed the data gathered by the telescope and concluded that the simultaneous occurrence of the burst in all nine directions indicates that its origin was close to Earth.
It also indicated a temporary weakening of the magnetosphere but it holds great potential. It could hold clues about predicting future superstorms that can lead to massive loss of lives and technological infrastructure on Earth.
It is worth mentioning here that the magnetosphere protects Earth from high-intensity radiations and the continuous flow of solar and galactic cosmic rays.