Magnetic phenomenon that causes auroras on Earth has now surprisingly been discovered
creating giant magnetic bubbles around Venus, a planet without a magnetic field. The Northern and Southern Lights on Earth are caused by magnetic lines of force breaking and connecting with each other. This process, known as magnetic reconnection, can explosively convert magnetic energy to heat and kinetic energy. Scientists had seen magnetic reconnection with planets only when they had intrinsic magnetic fields, such as Earth, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. These magnetic fields deflect charged particles in the solar wind streaming from the sun into a shell surrounding the planet known as a magnetosphere. Magnetic reconnection can occur within magnetospheres, leading to auroras and magnetic storms. On the lee sides of planets facing away from the solar wind, magnetospheres elongate into so-called magnetotails. Despite having no magnetic field, Venus does have a magnetotail, caused by the solar wind interacting with the ionosphere, the upper part of its atmosphere loaded with electrically charged ions. Now, using data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft, scientists have discovered magnetic reconnection in Venus’ magnetotail. The result was essentially a magnetic bubble of plasma 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers) wide that lasted for 94 seconds. According to study lead author Tielong Zhang a planetary scientist at the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Science and principal investigator of the Venus Express magnetometer the plasma dynamics of Venus and Earth are surprisingly similar, despite their very different magnetic environments, with and without intrinsic magnetic fields. As said researchers these findings could help explain mysterious flashes of light from Venus, in addition to the way comet tails work.