"Zebra Stripes" Discovered in Earth's Radiation Belts

The radiating "donut shape" around Earth has a surprising structure discovered this week. The scientists who made the discovery have dubbed it "zebra stripes."


Wired has the story:

The Van Allen belts, which extend high above our planet’s atmosphere, are made of high-energy protons and electrons emanating from the sun that have become trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. The belts were discovered in the 1950s, but in 2012 NASA launched twin satellites called the Van Allen probes to study them in detail. In the course of their work, the satellites noticed a population of highly energetic electrons that are slanted relative to the rest of the belts. Because of their tilt, researchers thought they look like zebra stripes. The colorful graphic above shows the newly discovered structure’s banded pattern, making them look a bit more like those terrible Fruit Stripe chewing gum packs you bought as a kid when all the good flavors were sold out.

Most activity in the Van Allen belts is governed by the sun. When our local star is near the peak of its solar cycle and producing large amounts of activity, radiation levels in the belts can significantly increase (which sometimes becomes problematic for astronauts). When scientists first saw the zebra stripe pattern, they assumed it was in some way connected to the sun’s activity. Surprisingly, it’s not the sun but the Earth that is responsible for the Van Allen zebra stripes.

To read more, head over to Wired.  

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

The mystery of Jesus’ brother gets even weirder

The controversy over whether Jesus had any siblings is reignited after an amazing new discovery of an ancient text.

Jesus and James. Unknown painter. Possibly 14th century.
Politics & Current Affairs
Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less