Solar Eclipse Bow Waves Invisibly Ripple Through Earth's Atmosphere


Essentially, the eclipse shadow acted like a giant ship, generating supersonic bow and stern waves hundreds of miles across. The unusual impact of solar eclipse on the atmosphere has been termed as "Wake" by the research team.

It is said that, when the moon came to the front of the sung during the eclipse, the moon blocked heat and when the moon moved out it created bow waves effect in the atmosphere. Titled "Ionospheric Bow Waves and Perturbations Induced by the 21 August 2017 Solar Eclipse", the paper's authors were five researchers from the MIT Haystack Observatory in MA, and one from the University of Tromsø, Norway. These sensors can accurately measure the density of the atmosphere, allowing the researchers to use them to track air currents.

Thanks to the work of MIT's Haystack Observatory and the University of Tromsø (located in Norway), along with roughly 2,000 receivers spread across North America, scientists have proven the existence of "bow waves" in Earth's atmosphere following an eclipse.

"We show the first unambiguous evidence of ionospheric bow waves as electron content disturbances over central/eastern United States, with ∼ 1 h duration, 300 - 400 km wavelength and 280 m/s phase speed emanating from and tailing the totality region", they wrote in the paper.

The research will be published in upcoming edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. However, it doesn't only block the light, but also the heat.

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"We were looking at some phenomena that were expected but never had the chance to be observed", corresponding author Shun-Rong Zhang of the Haystack Observatory told Gizmodo. He further added that the team had a large coverage and the satellite system is sensitive enough to be able to see these smaller variations. However, previous research didn't reveal any beneficial findings, until now, from the data that was gathered during the Great American Eclipse.

The researchers also looked for stern waves, named after the rear part of a boat that also makes waves as it moves through the water.

Geomagnetic storms can potentially disrupt satellite systems, not to mention our electrical power grids, according to Haystack Observatory. Rather, this is a safe and apparently very fruitful research opportunity.

Back in August, Boston University electrical and computer engineering professor Joshua Semeter told the university that bow waves (also sometimes referred to as stern waves) were among the phenomena he and his colleagues were hoping to capture during the eclipse.