How does our Earth protect herself and ourselves from devastating solar storms? It sends out huge plumes of plasma! This is the first time the process has been observed by scientists.
The Earth is protected by the magnetosphere. But when the sun’s magnetic field directly links with Earth, it can create cracks in the magnetosphere allowing solar winds to punch holes into the ozone layer, creating auroras in the sky, but also driving up the risk of human cancers.
The Gif from NASA features the amazing moment when the plasmasphere sends a plume up to meet – and help block – incoming solar material. It was caught in January 2013 by Nasa’s Themis spacecraft (study of solar storms). You can find the paper here.
Well, I find this defense mechanism amazing!