We’d long suspected them, but in 2015 astronomers for the first time captured visual evidence of tubular plasma structures in the inner layers of the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth.
“For over 60 years, scientists believed these structures existed but by imaging them for the first time, we’ve provided visual evidence that they are really there,” said Cleo Loi of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) and the School of Physics at the University of Sydney back in 2015.
Loi was lead author on this research, done as part of her award-winning undergraduate thesis and published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
“The discovery of the structures is important because they cause unwanted signal distortions that could, as one example, affect our civilian and military satellite-based navigation systems. So we need to understand them,” she said.
The plasma structures are explained in this clip: