August 2017 Solar Eclipse Left Ripples in Ionosphere: Research

August 2017 Solar Eclipse Left Ripples in Ionosphere: Research

The August 2017 Solar Eclipse left waves in our planet’s ionosphere, the ionized section of earth’s upper atmosphere, as per a new research conducted by astronomers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Haystack Observatory and researchers at the University of Tromsø in Norway. The strange impact of solar eclipse on the atmosphere has been termed as ‘Wake’ by the research team. The “Great American Eclipse” in August 2017 was an important event, much awaited by astronomers and scientific community.

Researchers added that the impact was similar to atmospheric “bow waves,” like the outermost waves of a ship’s wake. Researchers checked data from 2,000 receivers across the United States. The sensors noticed small changes in the ionosphere.

MIT Haystack Observatory researcher and study author Shun-Rong Zhang said, "We were looking at some phenomena that were expected but never had the chance to be observed. That was the surprise we found... we had a large coverage and our system is sensitive enough to be able to see these smaller variations. That was really very interesting to us."

Zhang added that the impact was of low intensity and it won’t damage our electrical grid and communications systems. The atmosphere is complex and has many of regions with both charged and neutral particles.

The research will be published in upcoming edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The research paper further informed…

During the 21 August 2017 eclipse, high fidelity and wide coverage ionospheric observations provided for the first time an oversampled set of eclipse data, using a dense network of Global Navigation Satellite System receivers at ∼2000 sites in North America.

The eclipse shadow has a supersonic motion which is theoretically expected to generate atmospheric bow-waves, similar to a fast-moving river boat, with waves starting in the lower atmosphere and propagating into the ionosphere. However, previous geographically limited observations have had difficulty detecting these weak waves within the natural background atmospheric variability, and the existence of eclipse-induced ionospheric waves and their evolution in a complex coupling system remain controversial.