I’m sure the word “Portal” needs no introduction to the Sci-Fi buffs out there. But just to make the term clear, NASA defines a portal as “an extraordinary opening in space or time that connects travelers to distant realms. A good portal is a shortcut, a guide, a door into the unknown.” NASA funded researcher Jack Scudder, a researcher at the University of Iowa, has discovered portals in the Earth’s magnetic field. He says that these portals open and close dozens of times each day and remain open for some hours every time.
When these portals open up it will create an uninterrupted path leading from earth to the sun's atmosphere, which is 93 million miles away. They are called X-points or electron diffusion regions. They are located a few tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth and at that point the geomagnetic field meets the onrushing solar wind. These invisible, unstable, and elusive portels open and close, without warnings. When they do, it can cause geomagnetic storms and bright polar auroras, as a large amount of energetic particles can flow through the openings. The portals are created through a process of magnetic reconnection. In this process, lines of magnetic force from both celestial bodies mingle and criss-cross through space with the criss-crossing points becoming the x-points. This sudden joining of magnetic fields can propel jets of charged particles from the X-point, thus creating an "electron diffusion region." Thus these points can be located.
NASA is now planning to launch Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, or MMS, by 2014. The four ships that will be deployed are fitted with energetic particle detectors and magnetic sensors. They can be used to study the working of these portals. Check out this ScienceCast video that explains how hidden portals form and how to find them -
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CrazyEngineers Anniversary Celebrations
The CrazyEngineers Anniversary Celebration Week concludes on November 28th. Do not miss out on a chance to participate in the ongoing contests and win grand prizes!
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