We are surrounded, NASA astronomers now say, by flux transfer events – fast-moving, invisible tunnels to the Sun:
A magnetic portal will open, linking Earth to the sun 93 million miles away. Tons of high-energy particles may flow through the opening before it closes again, around the time you reach the end of the page.
The European Space Agency’s fleet of four Cluster spacecraft and NASA’s five THEMIS probes have flown through and surrounded these cylinders, measuring their dimensions and sensing the particles that shoot through. “They’re real,” says Sibeck.
Now that Cluster and THEMIS have directly sampled FTEs, theorists can use those measurements to simulate FTEs in their computers and predict how they might behave. Space physicist Jimmy Raeder of the University of New Hampshire presented one such simulation at the Workshop. He told his colleagues that the cylindrical portals tend to form above Earth’s equator and then roll over Earth’s winter pole. In December, FTEs roll over the north pole; in July they roll over the south pole.