Third Radiation Belt Discovered Around Earth

The extra Van Allen belt, which lasted only a month, may have been caused by a solar shock wave.

Earth’s magnetic field normally gathers energetic particles from the sun into two doughnut-shaped regions circling our planet. Called the Van Allen Belts, the inner one ranges from about 400 to 4,000 miles above Earth’s surface, and the outer one from 6,250 to as far as 40,000 miles. 

But in February 2013, NASA announced it had, briefly, observed a third belt.


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