Everyone has seen the earth’s magnetic field illustrated by lines drawn around the earth. And it has been theorized for the past 60 years that “atmospheric plasma” forms tubular structures that are aligned with and shaped by the magnetic field lines. Like many theories it had its adherence and skeptics and until now no one knew how to prove or disprove the existence of atmospheric plasma.
Never Before Used Technique
Cleo Loi began studying tubular plasma structures in the magnetosphere when she was a University of Sydney undergraduate student. Loi’s approach was novel and allowed her to visualize and map the magnetosphere and its moving plasma, capturing it in real time.
Loi, now a graduate student at the ARC Center of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) used the 7 km² kilometer Murchison Wide Field Array in the Western Australia desert. The telescope has 128 antenna tile wide field array and allowed Loi to begin mapping large swaths of sky using MWA’s rapid snapshot capabilities to render movie like motion of the plasma.
The following video goes into more detail on Loi’s breakthrough.