NASA’s discovery of third radiation belt around Earth will mean ‘rewriting textbooks’

van allen belts 1020

Scientists used to think that the Van Allen belts — two nested rings of charged particles surrounding the Earth — might bulge and swell in response to what’s happening on the sun, but were otherwise more or less fixed in place. Well, according to a new finding announced by NASA, the rings are actually much more malleable than originally thought. New data shows their structure reconfigured in response to a major coronal mass ejection (pictured below), for the first time revealing the formation of a third belt. In its press release, NASA said the finding would require “rewriting textbooks.”

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