15 January 2006

Glow-in-the-dark planet

I’m sure we’ve all seen Theodor Geisel’s wettest dream, glow-in-the-dark green ham [as reported by Chris Hogg, thank you BBC] by now, but how about a green, glow-in-the-dark style planet?

earth in extreme UV

This a snapshot of Earth in the extreme ultra-violet (EUV). Like the auroral corona?

Good, ’coz it’s there 24x7. It gets wider and narrower, fuzzier and more intense, but it’s always there, even if we can’t see it with our carefully tuned little eyeballs.

The fuzzy ball represent Earth’s “plasmasphere”, which like the magnetosphere, ionosphere et al surrounds Earth and protects it from lots of cosmic nasties. It also fluctuates, depending upon a variety of factors, not all of them well understood.

/ME has to wonder what effects this has on the ionosphere, global warming, yadda yadda. With all of this plasma happening, starting a few tens of kilometers up, it’s a wonder that Red Sprites, Blue Jets, ELVEs, TROLLs and the like weren’t officially noticed a long time earlier.

No comments: