sciencehabit writes "Scientists observing the x-ray sky first noticed noise in their signals that was eventually ascribed to x-rays produced when the solar wind interacts with the tails of comets. Once alerted to this phenomenon, researchers then noticed that similar x-rays are generated when solar wind particles strike neutral atoms just above Earth's magnetosphere, the bubble produced by Earth's magnetic field that surrounds the planet and protects it from harmful solar radiation. The emissions, which are easy to detect with x-ray telescopes, could produce a display of the entire magnetosheath, the part of the magnetosphere that is bombarded by incoming solar particles. And that display could enable scientists to generate, in real-time, global, space-weather images, just as high-flying meteorological satellites provide real-time images of weather on Earth. This would be useful because, when sudden bursts of intense radiation from the sun pierce the magnetosphere's protective bubble, they set off events that can fry the delicate electronic equipment aboard orbiting satellites, interfere with or kill telecommunications signals, and even overload electric power grids on the ground."
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