Journal Highlights

Giant ‘space hurricanes’ propelled by solar wind may impact satellite safety, study finds

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Could the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Costa Rica set off a hurricane in California? The question has been scrutinized by chaos theorists, stock-market analysts and weather forecasters for decades. For most people, this hypothetical scenario may be difficult to imagine on Earth – particularly when a real disaster strikes.

Yet, in space, similarly small fluctuations in the solar wind as it streams toward the Earth’s magnetic shield can affect the speed and strength of “space hurricanes,” researchers report in a new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The new study offers the first detailed description of the mechanism by which solar wind fluctuations can change the properties of so-called space hurricanes…More