Sun doused Mercury with a wave of plasma, “charging” the atmosphere of the planet

(ORDO NEWS) — On Tuesday, a giant wave of plasma straight from the Sun crashed into Mercury, likely causing a geomagnetic storm on it and ripping material from the planet’s surface.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) was seen from the far side of the Sun on the evening of April 11 and lasted less than a day.

The plasma wave came from a sunspot – a region on the outer side of the Sun where powerful magnetic fields, created by a stream of electric charges, “tie” into a knot, and then suddenly collapse.

The energy of this process is released in the form of radiation bursts, called solar flares, or in the form of plasma waves (CMEs).

On planets with strong magnetic fields, such as Earth, CMEs are absorbed and cause powerful geomagnetic storms.

During these storms, the Earth’s magnetic field is slightly compressed by waves of high-energy particles that stream along magnetic field lines near the poles and mix molecules in the atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light, creating the aurora borealis.

However, unlike Earth, Mercury does not have a strong magnetic field. This fact, as well as its proximity to the star, means that it has long been deprived of a permanent atmosphere.

The atoms left on Mercury are constantly lost in space, forming a comet-like tail of ejected material behind the planet.

But the solar wind – a constant stream of charged particles, nuclei of elements such as helium, carbon, nitrogen, neon and magnesium from the Sun – and tidal waves of particles from the CME are constantly replenishing the tiny number of atoms on Mercury, creating a rippling thin layer of the atmosphere.


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