Hefei, China(SPX) Jan 13, 2022 A solar eclipse over the Arctic created changes in auroras in both...
A solar eclipse over the Arctic created changes in auroras in both of Earth's hemispheres due to connections through the planet's magnetic field, according to a new study.
The eclipse affected auroras in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, according to the new study, published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters, which publishes high-impact, short-format reports with immediate implications spanning all Earth and space sciences.
Auroras are the shimmering light shows in the sky that flare up when solar storms shoot out energy and particles that interact with gases in the atmosphere.
"Excitingly, we found that the aurora and upper atmosphere were disturbed in the Southern Hemisphere where the eclipse did not cover," Dang said.
The new research represents the first time scientists have shown how an eclipse affects the coupling between the ionosphere-the regions where energy from the Sun ionizes the atmosphere and where auroras occur-and the magnetosphere, the bubble around Earth created by Earth's magnetic field.
Dang and his colleagues discovered the eclipse not only altered the local atmosphere under the moon's shadow but also caused rings around the poles to form in the currents in the ionosphere and changed the activity of the auroras in both hemispheres.
This new study also illustrates the sizable impact of the solar eclipse on the ionosphere, which can absorb, bend and reflect the radio signals used by Global Positioning System satellites, potentially creating disturbances in communication and navigation.
Previous studies have shown that a solar eclipse can also reduce the density of particles in the ionosphere in the path of the shadow.
Dang and his collaborators developed a model that combines the upper atmosphere, the magnetosphere and electrical currents flowing in this system and used it to understand how the June solar eclipse affected Earth's geospace.
"Usually, people don't think about the connection between the solar eclipse and aurora because the eclipse is a daytime phenomenon and the aurora is a phenomenon in the night at high latitudes. But an eclipse can sometimes occur at high latitudes and this research demonstrated its impact on aurora."