Portal to the Sun


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Have you ever imagined what it would be like if space teleportation was possible? Well a NASA funded researcher at the University of Iowa has found magnetic "portals" in the Earth's magnetosphere, although they may not be what you expected. The portals have another end, ninety three million miles away next to the Sun. When these portals are open, "tons of energetic particles can flow through the openings, heating Earth's upper atmosphere, sparking geomagnetic storms, and igniting bright polar auroras."[1] Discovering these portals will hopefully lead to a better understanding of how the Earth's magnetic fields work. It is also another way that the Sun heats our atmosphere.

664637main_polar-xpoint.jpg

Unfortunately, finding the portals can be a difficult task. You see, these portals are not only invisible, but are also only open for short time frames during the day. Couple in the fact that they occur tens of thousands of kilometers from the Earth and you can see why they are difficult to find. Luckily, plasma physicist Jack Scudder has found a way to predict where a new one may occur. "Portals form via the process of magnetic reconnection. Mingling lines of magnetic force from the sun and Earth criss-cross and join to create the openings. "X-points" are where the criss-cross takes place. The sudden joining of magnetic fields can propel jets of charged particles from the X-point, creating an "electron diffusion region."1 This electron diffusion region that Scudder talks about can turn into a cylindrical portal that then is accessible both in the Earth's magnetosphere and near the Sun.

The ability to accurately predict the location of one of the portals has led NASA to construct four new spacecraft that have the necessary instruments to study these portals[2]. Previously it was believed that it would take over a year for these spacecraft to find a portal, but with Scudder's discovery, the craft can now get to work almost instantly. Scientists are still not sure what can be learned, but the possibilities seem endless. Imagine if someday we could harness these particles that are coming out of the portals, and turn them into consumable energy. With new portals opening every day, and the particles coming directly from the Sun, we may eventually have a new power source.


1 Comment

Reading this article I found myself being a little skeptical. For quite some time now I have believed that the idea of black holes was existent but how they worked or how they were formed was almost completely unknown. So, for something as similar to a black hole as this magnetosphere portals seem to sound has me wondering how they can sound so sure about what they are seeing. I think they will know more once they are able to fully commence with the "MMS," short for Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission. NASA is planning on launching studies about these portals so theories such as you mentioned can be backed with more concrete evidence. The theory sounds very promising however and I am excited to see whether or not this theory turns out to be valid.

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