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GRAPES-3 Telescope Records Cosmic Ray Burst, Highlights Crack In Earth’s Magnetic Field

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The Gamma Ray Astronomy PeV EnergieS 3rd establishment (GRAPES-3) muon telescope, the largest cosmic ray monitor, has observed a burst of galactic cosmic rays suggesting a crack in Earth's magnetic shield.

The burst took place when a very large cloud of plasma erupted from the solar corona and collided with our planet, causing a significant compressions of the Earth's magnetosphere. The collision also triggered an acute geomagnetic storm.

The telescope is currently located at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR)'s Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ooty, and the galactic cosmic rays it observed were approximately 20 GeV. The event took place on June 22, 2015, and went on for about two hours.

The blast happened as the cloud formation of plasma distanced from the solar corona, moving with a speed of roughly 2.5 million kilometers per hour, touched Earth. As a result of this event, a compression of the magnetosphere from 11 to 4 times the radius of our planet was created. The geomagnetic storm created aurora borealis, as well as radio signal interference at the level of various countries around the globe being located in high altitudes.

Effects On The Magnetosphere

The magnetosphere of our planet is stretched over 600,000 miles, its most important purpose is that it acts as a line of defense, protecting the planet from galactic and solar cosmic rays, along with the lives and environment. The high-intensity radiations contain harmful energetic fields, which could significantly endanger our planet's forms of life.

Simulations were carried out by the GRAPES-3 collaboration, in this respect, show that our planet's magnetic shield is cracked for the moment because of the magnetic reconnection and its effects, which permits to the cosmic ray particles of lower energy to enter our atmosphere.

The magnetic field of our planet bent the particles roughly 180 degree; therefore, the effects shifted from the day-side to the night zones of Earth.

The data observed that night was carefully analyzed and interpreted, through the means of expanded simulations, during the following weeks. The machine was designed in-house by the GRAPES-3 team of engineers and physicists. The place where the instrument was built, just like the telescope, was at the research facility in Ooty.

The GRAPE-3 telescope is an Indian-located project consisting of cosmic ray study, through the air shower detector array, as well as large muon detectors. The purpose of this project is to comprehend nuclear composition of the cosmic rays, as well as high-energy gamma-ray astronomy or modulation of solar activity.

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