VLF bubble: Man-made barrier around Earth prevents plan high-energy space radiation

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Man-made barrier around Earth prevents plan high-energy space radiation
Man-made barrier around Earth prevents plan high-energy space radiation

New Delhi : In a new study, NASA has revealed that they have spotted a Man-made barrier around Earth that disallows high-energy space radiation from entering the planet. 

So far, it was believed that humans have a capability of changing only the Earth’s landscape, but with the new revaltion, it looks like we can shape up the near-space environment too.

A certain type of communications—very low frequency (VLF) radio communications—have been found to interact with particles in space, affecting how and where they move. At times, these interactions can create a barrier around Earth against natural high energy particle radiation in space.

"A number of experiments and observations have figured out that, under the right conditions, radio communications signals in the VLF frequency range can in fact affect the properties of the high-energy radiation environment around the Earth," said Phil Erickson, assistant director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Haystack Observatory in the US.

A VLF bubble has been spotted around Earth which is believed to be formed due to the reverse transmission of VLF signals sent to communicate with submarines deep in the ocean.

The existence of VLF bubble has also been verified by spacecrafts in the space, such as NASA’s Van Allen Probes, which study electrons and ions in the near-Earth environment.

The probes have noticed an interesting coincidence—the outward extent of the VLF bubble corresponds almost exactly to the inner edge of the Van Allen radiation belts, a layer of charged particles held in place by Earth’s magnetic fields.

Dan Baker from the University of Colorado in the US coined this lower limit the “impenetrable barrier” and speculates that if there were no human VLF transmissions, the boundary would likely stretch closer to Earth. Indeed, comparisons of the modern extent of the radiation belts from Van Allen Probe data show the inner boundary to be much farther away than its recorded position in satellite data from the 1960s, when VLF transmissions were more limited.

The research was published in the journal Space Science Reviews.