Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination (Topic: Space Hurricane)

Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination

Current Affairs Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination

Topic: Space Hurricane

Space Hurricane

Why in News?

  • For the first time, astronomers have detected a powerful, 600-milewide (1,000 kilometers) hurricane of plasma in Earth's upper atmosphere — a phenomenon they are calling a "space hurricane."

What is Space Hurricane?

  • A space hurricane is a huge, funnel-like, spiral geomagnetic storm that occurs above the polar Ionosphere of Earth, during extremely quiet conditions.
  • They are related to the aurora borealis phenomenon, as the electron precipitation from the storm's funnel produces gigantic, cyclone-shaped auroras.
  • Scientists believe that they occur in the polar regions of planets with magnetic fields.
  • Space hurricanes are formed by plasma interacting with magnetic fields and draw energy down from the flow of the Solar wind.

What is Plasma?

  • The universe is made of up of space plasma. Plasma is the word given to the fourth state of matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma).
  • Plasma is a gas that is so hot that some or all its constituent atoms are split up into electrons and ions, which can move independently of each other.

What’s Unique about It?

  • Large, swirling storms called hurricanes hit frequently in the Earth's low atmosphere, but they were not known to occur in the upper atmosphere.
  • Scientists have for the first time observed a space hurricane in Earth's upper atmosphere.
  • The spiral-armed space hurricane swirled roughly 125 miles over the North Pole, churning in place for almost eight hours.


  • Researchers has analysed the observations made by satellites in 2014 to reveal a long-lasting hurricane, resembling those in the lower atmosphere, in the polar ionosphere and magnetosphere with surprisingly large energy and momentum deposition despite otherwise extremely quiet geomagnetic conditions.
  • The analysis allowed a 3D image to be created of the 1,000km-wide swirling mass of plasma several hundred kilometres above the North Pole, raining electrons instead of water.


  • Space hurricanes, like other space weather events, are caused by streams of plasma unleashed from the sun in what's known as the solar wind.
  • As these clouds of charged particles hurl through space, they can fuel magnetic storms and trigger stunning displays of the northern or southern lights.


  • These features indicate that the space hurricane leads to large and rapid deposition of energy and flux into the polar ionosphere during an otherwise extremely quiet geomagnetic condition, suggesting that current geomagnetic activity indicators do not properly represent the dramatic activity within space hurricanes, which are located further poleward than geomagnetic index observatories.
  • Scientists routinely monitor space weather because radiation from particles from the sun can wreak havoc on satellites in orbit and can occasionally disrupt infrastructure on the ground, such as surges in power lines.
  • Since the observed space hurricane occurred over the North Pole, it's not thought that it would pose many dangers to people at lower latitudes, but there are implications for communications and navigation systems.
  • The space hurricane will lead to have better understanding of important space weather effects like increased satellite drag, disturbances in High Frequency (HF) radio communications, and increased errors in over-the- orizon radar location, satellite navigation and communication systems.