NASA recently made a major scientific breakthrough in understanding the way a magnetic reconnection works in space.
A magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon that we’ve had a lot of trouble understanding for years, but thanks to a recent observation from a set of four satellites known as MMS that NASA recently flew straight through a magnetic reconnection between the magnetic fields of our Earth and the Sun, we now know a little bit more and have been able to observe it up close.
NASA compares it, in a public statement, to sending sensors flying into a hurricane to collect data.
These four satellites are positioned in a pyramind formation so that they can create an accurate 3D map of anything that they study, that's exactly what NASA did when they watched the magnetic reconnection up close.
Published in the journal Science, the findings from the fly-through note that in a magnetic reconnection, particles that are both positively and negatively charged are ejected in various directions when a magnetic field connects or reconnects due to an “explosive” reaction.
"One of the mysteries of magnetic reconnection is why it’s explosive in some cases, steady in others, and in some cases, magnetic reconnection doesn’t occur at all," NASA's MMS mission scientist Tom Moore said in a statement.
Massive amounts of energy are released at the time of a magnetic reconnection, although sometimes they can be explosive and sometimes they can be slow and steady.
Because magnetic fields surround the Earth and other spatial bodies, these kinds of phenomenon are very common in space. Just like the Earth has its gravitational pull, spatial objects have their magnetic fields. On the other hand, despite how common they are in space, scientists have never really been able to study them up close until now.
In the video demonstration below, the phenomenon is explained in a far more visual manner and you can see how the particles travel following the magnetic reconnection: