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Great American Eclipse Paves Way To In-Depth Study Of Bow Waves

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The Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21 has created the first high fidelity bow waves to be clearly documented in the history of the atmospheric study.

According to theories, the Moon blocks the Sun's heat from reaching Earth during a solar eclipse. As it passes in front of the star, it casts a moving shadow over the Earth, which causes heat energy levels to drop in areas along its path.

This is believed as the source of what scientists describe as a bow wave effect. It is characterized by contrasting heat energies that move like waves produced by a boat moving in water, starting from the lower atmosphere and rising toward the ionosphere.

Little is known about these bow waves, their origins as well as their role in a solar eclipse. They have been detected in several past events but researchers were unable to produce any clear documentation due to weak fidelity and geographical limitations.

MIT Detects Bow Waves On Atmosphere Of Earth Using 2,000 Sensors

Three days before the highly-anticipated event, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that it will study the partial solar eclipse to determine its effects on weather in the space near Earth, which the Sun directly affects.

On top of the 2,000 Global Navigation Satellite System sensors scattered throughout the United States, the institution also enjoined ground-based facilities such as its Haystack Observatory, Millstone Hill, and Arecibo Observatory. It also used satellites under NASA's TIMED mission.

MIT's investigative efforts resulted in more than just space weather data but also in the first oversampled record of bow waves. With a wavelength ranging from 300 to 400 km, the evidence covered both Central and Eastern America. It lasted for a duration of an hour while moving at a speed of 280 m/s.

A large-scale disturbance was briefly detected in the ionosphere. It was recorded to move at a supersonic rate and is the fastest moving evidence of its scale and location. However, its nature remains unidentified. Researchers were only able to disprove them as gravitational waves because of its speed.

Solar Eclipse Of August 2017 Discovery Leads To New Information And Deeper Investigations

A study published on Dec. 25 in a scientific journal contains the observations collected by researchers from MIT and Norway's University of Tromsø. It also states that through the bow wave, the team was able to identify a complex connection involving the Earth's atmosphere, Sun, and Moon. It also serves as evidence of the interdependent processes that occur in the Earth's atmosphere.

Disturbances like bow waves were thought to damage satellites and electrical systems, however, the study proved these theories wrong.

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