Magnetic-Shield Cracks Found; Big Solar Storms in 2012
National Geographic: An unexpected, thick layer of solar particles inside Earth’s magnetic field suggests there are huge breaches in our planet’s solar defenses, scientists said.
These breaches indicate that during the next period of high solar activity, due to start in 2012, Earth will experience some of the worst solar storms seen in decades.
Data from NASA’s THEMIS satellite showed that a 4,000-mile-thick (6,437-kilometer-thick) layer of solar particles has gathered and is rapidly growing within the outermost part of the magnetosphere, a protective bubble created by Earth’s magnetic field.
Normally the magnetosphere blocks most of the solar wind, flowing outward from the sun at about a million miles (1.6 million kilometers) an hour.