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Earth’s magnetic field is humming today

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Markus Varik, a long-time aurora tour guide photographed this unusual aurora seen over the northern parts of Norway on 19 February 2020 “It was so different from the usual aurora arcs. Truly magic!”

A G1-class geomagnetic storm is underway today (19 February 2020) as the Earth enters a minor stream of solar wind. Even before the solar wind arrived, Earth’s magnetic field was humming with energy because of a crack that opened for over 8 hours yesterday; solar wind poured in, setting the stage for today’s storm. A G1 storm can mildly impact on satellite operation and power grids.

The Earth is surrounded by a magnetic force field, a bubble in space called “the magnetosphere”, which is tens of thousands of kilometres wide. It’s a far-flung part of the same planetary magnetic field that deflects compass needles here on Earth’s surface. And it’s important. The magnetosphere acts as a shield that protects us from solar storms.

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