Scientists have announced they believe the North Pole was hit by what they are calling a “space hurricane.”

But rather than raining down water, this hurricane rained down something much different: electrons.

As reported by NBC News:

Scientists said last week they observed a previously unknown phenomenon — a 620-mile-wide swirling mass of plasma that roiled for hours in Earth’s upper atmosphere, raining electrons instead of water.

The researchers labeled the disturbance a space hurricane because it resembled and behaved like the rotating storm systems that routinely batter coastlines around the world. But until now, they were not known to exist.”

This space hurricane was caused by solar wind, which in turn is caused when plasma is released from the sun in streams. The northern lights are caused by the same phenomena.

This is the first time such an event was observed by scientists, but that does not mean it is the first time such an event has occurred on Earth.

In fact, the only reason scientists discovered it at all was because they were following a trail of “clues” in satellite images from 2014.

NBC News further reports that:

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.”

Larry Lyons, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, was one of the authors of a study detailing the space hurricane findings. Lyons explained that this will be of importance to those involved with GPS and satellite communications.

Further studies are planned to explore the conditions that cause, and what can be impacted by, these strange space hurricanes.

To read the full story in NBC News, click here.


  • Adam Houser

    Adam Houser coordinates student leaders as National Director of CFACT's collegians program and writes on issues of climate and energy.