In a fascinating discovery, NASA has found that a magnetic doorway will briefly connect the Earth and the Sun. Hundreds of thousands of high-energy particles will pass through this opening before it closes. These doorways, called “flux transfer events” (FTEs), were previously thought not to exist, but the proof is now clear. In fact, NASA has found that FTEs will happen every eight minutes in the future.
For a long time, scientists have believed that the Earth and the Sun are linked. Through the solar wind, high-energy particles from the Sun break through the Earth’s magnetosphere, which is the magnetic bubble surrounding our planet. FTEs are made when the Earth’s magnetic field is pushed against the Sun’s magnetic field, creating a magnetic cylinder-shaped opening that goes all the way around the Earth. ESA Cluster spacecraft and NASA THEMIS probes flew in and around these cylinders, measuring their diameters and keeping track of the particles that went through them.
FTEs are not random, and flares and the speed at which solar particles move have no effect on them. The gates open every eight minutes. Scientists believe that there are two types of FTEs: active and passive. Active FTEs are large energy conductors for the Earth’s magnetosphere, making it easy for particles to move through and allowing a lot of energy through. Passive FTEs are more resistant to particles and fields.
While many questions about FTEs remain unanswered, scientists are giving them a lot of thought. For example, why do portals show up every eight minutes? How do magnetic fields twist and curl inside a cylinder? However, scientists are confident that these observations can be used to create computer models of FTEs and predict how they will act.
These magnetic doorways are not only fascinating but also offer exciting opportunities for sending data to and from space. With FTEs opening up high above us, there will be a new way to get and send data, which is an important factor for future space exploration.