The world’s largest and most sensitive cosmic ray monitor, located in India, has recorded a burst of galactic cosmic rays which produced a crack in the Earth’s magnetic shield, according to scientists.
This is to say, a large fast moving coronal mass ejection (CME) from our Sun acting as an offensive front line making an opening in Earth’s magnetic field which then allowed an unusual large flow of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) to enter our atmosphere.
This event is unusual due to the fact that during times of high solar activity, the larger solar particles push aside the smaller but more harmful and damaging cosmic rays particles which produce high levels of radiation. Galactic cosmic rays come from outside our solar system generated from various celestial events such as exploding stars or supernovas occurring throughout our galaxy Milky Way.
The GRAPES-3 muon telescope located at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research’s Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ooty recorded a burst of galactic cosmic rays last year lasting for two hours.
The burst occurred when a giant cloud of plasma ejected from the solar corona, and moving with a speed of about 1.56 million per hour (2.5 million km) struck our planet, causing a severe compression of Earth’s magnetosphere from 11 to 4 times the radius of Earth. It triggered a severe geomagnetic storm that generated aurora borealis and radio signal blackouts in many high latitude countries, according to the study published in the journal Physical Review Letters this week.
Earth’s magnetosphere extends over a radius of 620,000 miles (1,000,000,000 kilometers), which acts as the first line of defense, shielding us from the continuous flow of solar and galactic cosmic rays, thus protecting life on our planet from these high intensity energetic radiations.