Sunlight shakes the solar system by simply sending out dramatic interplanetary shocks, and NASA has observed these shocks for its very first time.

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale assignment (MMS) includes four spacecraft which have now been in orbit around Earth since 2015, moving through our planet’s magnetosphere to review a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection. The phenomenon only occurs in plasmascreen, which includes the gas which is found throughout almost all of space, and in the presence of magnetic fields. Sometimes, when magnetic field lines are near one another in plasmascreen, the traces could reconfigure to a new form and let a burst of energy.

The energy given out from magnetic reconnection may be critical, together with heat and kinetic energy exploding outwards from the source point. But scientists still aren’t sure what activates a magnetic reconnection event. The purpose of the MMS will be to watch Earth’s magnetic areas closely to learn more about internet sites.

Today MMS has heard about one such activate for magnetic reconnection, that will be solar end. As the sun burns fuel, it periodically releases streams of charged particles called solar wind. These streams can be fast or slow. “each time a fast stream of solar wind overtakes a slower stream, it creates a shock wave, just like a boat moving through a river produces a wave,” in accordance with NASA. This shock wave propagates from sunlight and in to the Solar System, when it hits the planet earth ’s magnetic field that it can lead to the magnetic reconnection effect.

The MMS was fortunate to grab a shock as it just happened, because the four craft need to be close together to watch accurately, and shock zips beyond the spacecraft in just half a second. MMS has a tool known as the Fast Plasma Investigation which takes dimensions up to 6 days per second, therefore it was able to catch the shock. On January 8 this year, MMS discovered two clumps of ions from the solar wind in quick succession, indicating that a very first clump was from the shock and the next clump has bounced off the shock.

Now scientists have observed a highly effective shock in activity, they are confident they will be able to detect weaker shocks in the future.