An extreme distortion of the Van Allen belt arising from the \textquoteleftHallowe\textquoterighten\textquoteright solar storm in 2003
The Earth\textquoterights radiation belts\textemdashalso known as the Van Allen belts1\textemdashcontain high-energy electrons trapped on magnetic field lines2, 3. The centre of the outer belt is usually 20,000\textendash25,000 km from Earth. The region between the belts is normally devoid of particles2, 3, 4, and is accordingly favoured as a location for spacecraft operation because of the benign environment5. Here we report that the outer Van Allen belt was compressed dramatically by a solar storm known as the \textquoteleftHallowe\textquoterighten storm\textquoteright of 2003. From 1 to 10 November, the outer belt had its centre only ~10,000 km from Earth\textquoterights equatorial surface, and the plasmasphere was similarly displaced inwards. The region between the belts became the location of high particle radiation intensity. This remarkable deformation of the entire magnetosphere implies surprisingly powerful acceleration and loss processes deep within the magnetosphere.
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