Several respondents to this thread have seemed to agree that radiation was involved. I'd like to try to explain this incident using only known physics, recent findings from NASA's THEMIS mission and radiation from the sun's coronasphere. No recourse to aliens, god or the supernatural is needed! I'm no expert at anything except maybe go-kart racing, so I'm expecting some correction and guidance from more advanced members.
Bremsstrahlung and synchrotron radiation
occurs from fusion and intense magnetic events in the sun's corona.
Video images of tornadic structures above the sun taken April 25, 2011
Still image of spherically structured energy above sun taken May 11, 2011
THEMIS, short for Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms, has found several mechanisms by which solar substorm radiation can be delivered to the Earth's atmosphere and/or surface.
Earth's magnetosphere (the magnetic bubble that surrounds our planet) is filled with particles from the sun that arrive via the solar wind and penetrate the planet's magnetic defenses. They enter by following magnetic field lines that can be traced from terra firma all the way back to the sun's atmosphere.
Earth's magnetic field presses against the sun's magnetic field. Approximately every eight minutes, the two fields briefly merge or "reconnect," forming a portal through which particles can flow. The portal takes the form of a magnetic cylinder about as wide as Earth. The European Space Agency's fleet of four Cluster spacecraft and NASA's five THEMIS probes have flown through and surrounded these cylinders, measuring their dimensions and sensing the particles that shoot through. "They're real,"
Space Tornadoes: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...s-auroras.html
Whirling at more than a million miles per hour, these invisible, funnel-shaped solar windstorms carry electrical currents of more than a hundred thousand amps—roughly ten times that of an average lightning strike—scientists announced Thursday.
And they're huge: up to 44,000 miles (70,000 kilometers) long and wide enough to envelop Earth.
Led by the University of California astrophysicist Andreas Keiling, scientists have made the most detailed measurements yet of the space tornadoes, also known as substorm current wedges.
Barrages of the wind's charged particles hit the dayside of Earth, then flow around the planet, stretching our magnetic field into a tail—or magnetotail—extending away from the sun.
The new measurements show that a space tornado forms roughly every three hours and takes just one minute to reach Earth's ionosphere—our outermost atmospheric layer, between 62 and 250 miles (100 and 400 kilometers) above the ground.
Space quakes: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...l_spacequakes/
The surprise is plasma vortices, huge whirls of magnetized gas as wide as Earth itself, spinning on the verge of the quaking magnetic field.
"When plasma jets hit the inner magnetosphere, vortices with opposite sense of rotation appear and reappear on either side of the plasma jet," explains Rumi Nakamura of the Space Research Institute in Austria, a co-author of the study. "We believe the vortices can generate substantial electrical currents in the near-Earth environment."
Acting together, vortices and spacequakes could have a noticeable effect on Earth. The tails of vortices may funnel particles into Earth's atmosphere, sparking auroras and making waves of ionization that disturb radio communications and GPS. By tugging on surface magnetic fields, spacequakes generate currents in the very ground we walk on. Ground current surges can have profound consequences, in extreme cases bringing down power grids over a wide area.
Plasma bullets: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...plasmabullets/
A little more than midway up the THEMIS line, magnetic fields erupted, "releasing about 10^15 Joules of energy," says Angelopoulos. "For comparison, that's about as much energy as a magnitude 5 earthquake."
Although the explosion happened inside Earth's magnetic field, it was actually a release of energy from the sun. When the solar wind stretches Earth's magnetic field, it stores energy there, in much the same way energy is stored in a rubber band when you stretch it between thumb and forefinger. Bend your forefinger and—crack!—the rubber band snaps back on your thumb. Something similar happened inside the magnetotail on Feb. 26, 2008. Over-stretched magnetic fields snapped back, producing a powerful explosion. This process is called "magnetic reconnection" and it is thought to be common in stellar and planetary magnetic fields.
The blast launched two "plasma bullets," gigantic clouds of protons and electrons, one toward Earth and one away from Earth. The Earth-directed cloud crashed into the planet below, sparking vivid auroras observed by some 20 THEMIS ground stations in Canada and Alaska. The opposite cloud shot harmlessly into space, and may still be going for all researchers know.
Giant Breach in Magnetosphere: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news...c_giantbreach/
"10^27 particles per second were flowing into the magnetosphere—that's a 1 followed by 27 zeros. This kind of influx is an order of magnitude greater than what we thought was possible."
The entire day-side of the magnetosphere was open to the solar wind."
Most respectfully submitted,