Italian scientists have discovered that a very bright and long-lasting γ-ray burst (GRB) called GRB 221009A may cause large changes in the ionospheric electromagnetic field of the Earth’s ionosphere, 500 kilometers above the ground. This is probably one of the strongest GRBs detected in the Earth’s atmosphere. The study was recently published in Nature Communications.
The ionization stability of the Earth’s atmosphere plays a decisive role in the evolution and persistence of life, and is affected by cosmic explosions that can produce high-energy GRBs. These GRBs may cause ionospheric disturbances because the emitted energetic particles cause abnormal ionization of the ionosphere. While GRBs are known to have an effect on the Earth’s lower ionosphere, their effects on the upper ionosphere have never been observed. Previous studies have found that GRB221009A cause ionospheric disturbances in the lower ionosphere, but not in the upper ionosphere.
Mirko Piersanti and colleagues at L’Aquila University analyzed ionospheric data from satellites and ground base stations. They found that on October 9, 2022, a strong and prolonged ionospheric disturbance caused a large change in the upper ionosphere, and both events were related to GRB221009A. This GRB is about 7 minutes long, but it can still be detected more than 10 hours after the initial observation. (Source: Feng Weiwei, China Science News)
The artistic rendering depicts the severe disturbance caused by a powerful gamma-ray explosion to our planet’s ionosphere. It is the result of a gamma-ray burst produced by a supernova explosion of a star, which is located in a galaxy nearly 2 billion light-years away. Image credit: European Astronomical Office and European ATG
Related Paper Information:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-42551-5