Satellite data showed a space hurricane in the upper atmosphere of our planet that was made of plasma (ionized gas), causing it to rain electrons. The 600-mile-wide cyclone-shaped auroral storm, which was spotted hundreds of miles above the North Pole, was the first ever space hurricane ever witnessed.
The incredible phenomena was found by researchers led by China's Shandong University who searched through satellite data that revealed plasma swirling around in an anti-clockwise direction around the atmosphere instead of air. The storm lasted almost eight hours before breaking up and during that time, it rained electrons instead of water.
Based on this new data, space hurricanes could possibly exist on other planets and moons that contain plasma and magnetic fields. Professor Mike Lockwood, who is a space scientist at the University of Reading, stated, “Until now, it was uncertain that space plasma hurricanes even existed, so to prove this with such a striking observation is incredible.”
He went on to say, “Tropical storms are associated with huge amounts of energy, and these space hurricanes must be created by unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the Earth's upper atmosphere.” “Plasma and magnetic fields in the atmosphere of planets exist throughout the universe, so the findings suggest space hurricanes should be a widespread phenomena.”
As for what kind of damage it may cause to our planet, space hurricanes could possibly interrupt GPS systems. The study went into further details regarding this topic, reading in part, “A hurricane is clearly associated with strong energy and mass transportation, so a hurricane in Earth's upper atmosphere must be violent and efficiently transfer solar wind/magnetosphere energy and momentum into the Earth's ionosphere.”
Interestingly, space hurricanes are in fact quite similar to hurricanes we often experience right here in the lower atmosphere of our planet. They both contain a very calm and quiet center section, with spiraling arms and spread out for many miles. (An illustration of the space hurricane can be seen here.)
As if Earth hurricanes weren’t bad enough, now we have space hurricanes. The study was published in Nature Communications where it can be read in full.