As the equinox approaches, cracks are appearing in the earth’s magnetic field.
Despite the absence of a solar storm, alleged cracks in the Earth’s magnetic field have caused breathtaking aurora light displays to be visible in the skies.
The Russell-McPherron effect, which occurs when cracks in the magnetic field allow more solar wind to get through at the spring and fall equinoxes when day and night are equal in length, is described by spaceweather.com.
According to Ciaran Beggan, a geophysicist with the British Geological Survey, “the Rusell-McPherron effect is more of a geometrical effect to do with the orientation of the solar wind’s magnetic field and that of the Earth. There is always a cusp or open region of the Earth’s magnetic field around the north and south poles so the ‘cracks’ are permanent.”
The plasma that makes up this solar wind was blasted from the sun during a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is typically caused by sunspots because they have particularly potent coronal magnetic fields. The Earth is constantly being passed by solar winds, but they are more stronger in
The solar wind constantly adds energy to the magnetosphere because it is always present. Beggan claims that the magnetosphere has a dayside compression of around 3,700 miles and a nightside extension of more than 370,000 miles.
Over a few hours, energy from the solar wind is transported, accumulates, and is ultimately released by the magnetosphere by way of electric currents. These electric currents enter the ionosphere where they excite air atoms to produce the aurora.
According to Mike Hapgood, the lead expert in space weather at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) Space, “there really aren’t any cracks as such.” It’s a melodramatic description of how the Earth’s magnetic field can combine with the magnetic field in the solar wind, allowing solar wind energy to enter the region of space governed by Earth’s magnetic field (what we call the magnetosphere). I’m not sure where the term originated, but it has recently appeared in media articles.
Hapgood claims that the “magnetic reconnection” phenomenon, which happens when two magnetic fields in a plasma ejection have the opposite orientations, is what causes the merger.
Reconnection takes place when the magnetic field of the solar wind has a sizable southerly component because the outer portion of the Earth’s magnetic field has a northward direction.
The Earth’s poles are practically perpendicular to the sun during the equinoxes, according to Beggan. In summer or winter, one of the Earth’s poles is oriented at an angle from the solar wind, thus the coupling between them is smaller and consequently there are, on average, fewer storms. This optimises the “coupling” between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field.
This effect means that the greatest months to see auroras are September/October and March/April, according to spaceweather.com. September 22 marks the fall equinox of 2022.