The most famous results of the Earth’s magnetic field are the aurora borealis and australis (northern and southern lights). When solar-charged particles run into the Earth’s magnetic field, they can sometimes display brilliant light.
For years now, scientists have thought that the charges caused by those particles are sent in equal numbers toward the North and South Pole.
However, recent research by a team led by scientists at the University of Alberta showed that there are actually more charged particles in the north rather than the south. Now the question is why?
The data used by the scientists was collected by the swarm satellite constellation – a set of 3 satellites that have been observing the Earth’s magnetic field since 2013.
One thing seen at the time is that the Earth’s magnetic south pole is “more distant from the Earth’s spin axis than the magnetic north pole”, says the paper’s lead author, Ivan Pakhotin.
This leads to differences in the reflection of a type of electromagnetic waves known as alphavane waves, which eventually lead to differences in the way the northern and southern poles interact with the solar wind.
This measured asymmetry can mean any number. For one, the chemistry occurring in the upper atmosphere can vary dramatically between the northern and southern poles, causing significant climatic effects on the ground. But apart from this, it can mean a discrepancy between the two auroras.
Hitherto the effects of heterogeneity are not clear, and as with almost all good sciences, it warrants further study. The herd will continue its mission of collecting data that will be relevant to solving the mystery.
Meanwhile, those of us who are lucky enough to continue to experience Aurora can continue to stare at themselves in amazement, no matter how dissatisfied they may be.
This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.