Sun’s magnetic field boosts lightning strikes

03The number of lightning strikes has been significantly affected by solar activity, according to new research.The Sun’s magnetic field is bending the Earth’s own field, increasing our exposure to cosmic rays.These rays are believed to increase the number of thunderclouds and trigger lightning bolts in some locations.The manner is which lightning bolts are triggered has long puzzled scientists as the air is known to be a good insulator of electricity.Something else needs to come into play to conduct the electrical charges built up in thunder clouds down to the ground.Since the 1990s, researchers have speculated that the magnetic activity04 of the Sun could be linked to lightning on Earth.Current theories hold that high energy particles called galactic cosmic rays provide the necessary link that lets the current flow into a lightning bolt.This latest work suggests that the orientation of the Sun’s magnetic field is playing a significant role in the number of strikes.The researchers believe the field is like a bar magnet, so as our star spins around sometimes the field points towards the Earth and sometimes away.

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