Scientists say they have confirmed the existence of space hurricanes with a mass of 600 miles, observed over the North Pole.
Researchers led by the Chinese University of Shandong have used satellite data to identify the space hurricane, finding that it is not a vortex pattern of air, but of ionized plasma gas.
The mass rained electrons instead of water and lasted nearly eight hours before disintegrating.
Professor Mike Lockwood, a space scientist at the University of Reading, said hurricanes could be a universal phenomenon on planets and moons with magnetic fields and plasma.
He said: “Until now, it was not certain that there were even cosmic plasma hurricanes, so to prove this with such astonishing observation is incredible.
“Tropical storms involve huge amounts of energy, and these space hurricanes must be created by an unusually large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles to the Earth̵
“Plasma and magnetic fields in the planets’ atmosphere exist throughout the universe, so the findings suggest that space hurricanes must be widespread.”
The space hurricane, which occurred during low geomagnetic activity, has been found to share many characteristics with hurricanes in the Earth’s lower atmosphere – quiet center, spiral arms and wide distribution.
They are expected to lead to space meteorological effects, such as increased satellite resistance, interference in high-frequency radio communications and increased errors in the off-horizontal position of radars, satellite navigation and communication systems.
The findings are published in Nature Communications.