The Earth appears to be surrounded by giant, invisible tubes of plasma that fill the sky above our heads.
The idea, which has been a topic of controversy and debate among scientists for decades, might on the outset sound utterly preposterous, but now thanks to the research efforts of a graduate student from Australia the existence of this peculiar phenomenon has actually been proven correct.
23-year-old Cleo Loi from the University of Sydney was able to use a radio telescope in the outback to prove to the scientific community that these bizarre tubular-shaped plasma ducts, which are created by the atmosphere being ionized by sunlight, actually exist.
“For over 60 years, scientists believed these structures existed, but by imaging them for the first time, we’ve provided visual evidence that they are really there,” she said.
“We measured their position to be about 600km above the ground, in the upper ionosphere, and they appear to be continuing upwards into the plasmasphere.”
Ms Loi also believes that these plasma tubes could be distorting astronomical data and that we might need to re-evaluate our current understanding of how stars and galaxies appear and behave.
“It is to Cleo’s great credit that she not only discovered this but also convinced the rest of the scientific community,” said her supervisor Tara Murphy.
“As an undergraduate student with no prior background in this, that is an impressive achievement.”