HomeAstronomyUltra-fast electron rain is pouring out of Earth's magnetic shield, and scientists...

Ultra-fast electron rain is pouring out of Earth’s magnetic shield, and scientists think they know why

An illustration showing the donut-shaped Van Allen radiation belts swirling around Earth, with electrons spiraling through them. (Image credit: Zhang, et al., Nature Communications, 2022)

Tomorrow’s weather may be cloudy with a chance of electrons, thanks to a newly detected phenomenon in Earth’s magnetic shield.

Described as unexpected, ultra-fast “electron precipitation,” the phenomenon occurs when waves of electromagnetic energy pulse through Earth‘s magnetosphere — the magnetic field generated by the churning of Earth’s core, which surrounds our planet and shields it from deadly solar radiation. These electrons then overflow from the magnetosphere and plummet toward Earth. 

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