As per a study, recently published in Physical Review Letters, a crack has been detected in the Earth’s magnetic shield because of which enormous cosmic rays enter into the atmosphere and cause gigantic geomagnetic storms.
It was GRAPES-3 muon telescope located at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research’s Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ooty, India, which in June 2015 detected a rise in cosmic ray levels. It was then concluded that our planet’s magnetic shield must have got damaged.
This happened in 2015 when for two hours on June 22, particles from a big cloud of fast-moving plasma entered into the Earth’s atmosphere. The particles had originated from the surface of the Sun and they were travelling at about 2.5 million kilometers per hour. These particles crashed into Earth’s atmosphere with speed and caused the Earth’s magnetosphere to shrink from 11 times to four times the Earth’s radius. The penetration of particles also resulted in a severe geomagnetic storm. The magnetic storm brought down radio signals in many high latitude countries in the northern part of the world.
The Earth’s magnetosphere acts as the first line of defence, shielding the planet from the continuous flow of solar and galactic cosmic rays. The role of the charged particles present in the Earth’s magnetosphere is to deflect solar winds. This is how harmful ultraviolet radiation do not penetrate into the Earth’s surface.
It is a known fact that exposure to ultraviolet radiation can result in chronic harmful effects on the skin, eye, and immune system. The rays also speed up aging of the skin and cause further damage. Ultraviolet radiation also causes our skin to tan in the Sun. The worst it can do is cause cancer. The radiation is especially dangerous for pilots flying at high altitudes.
The burst in cosmic activity lead to weakening of Earth’s magnetic shield because of which in future super-storms may occur. Such super solar storms can result in major devastation of modern technological infrastructure on Earth like large electrical power grids, global positioning systems (GPS), satellite operations and communications.