Researchers have observed their first “space hurricane” – a 1,000-km-wide vortex of plasma – in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Like conventional hurricanes, this storm featured precipitation (of electrons rather than rain), a calm eye at its center, and several spiral arms. Based on the group’s model, interactions between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic fields drive the storm. Interestingly, the storm they observed occurred during a period of low solar and geomagnetic activity, which suggests that such space hurricanes could be frequent, both on Earth and in the upper atmospheres of other planets. (Image credit: Q. Zhang; research credit: Q. Zhang et al.; via Physics World)
Light streams from the branches of trees in this series from photographer Vitor Schietti. The effect is created with a combination of fireworks, long-exposure photography, and compositing. I love how the falling sparks create streaklines just like so many flow visualization diagnostics do! Follow more of Schietti’s work on Instagram. (Image credit: V. Schietti; via Colossal)
Stormwater management is one of the biggest municipal challenges towns and cities face. Urban surfaces are largely impermeable, preventing rainwater from soaking into the ground. Instead roads, ditches, and channels collect water and, typically, divert it as quickly as possible into natural waterways.
In contrast, wild landscapes tend to slow water run-off, filtering it into the water table, soaking it up with vegetation, and distributing it across a larger area. Recently, cities have started using low-impact development strategies, like rooftop gardens and rainwater collection, to mimic natural landscapes in urban ones. (Image and video credit: Practical Engineering)
Liquids flowing down a fiber can form bead-like droplets that may sit symmetrically (a) or asymmetrically (b) on the fiber. In general, the asymmetric droplets appear as surface tension increases or as the fiber diameter increases. The pattern of the droplets changes with flow rate. Within each subfigure, the flow rate increases from left to right. At low flow rates, we see only one or two large droplets migrating down the fiber. At moderate flow rates, a regular pattern of drops emerges. And at high flow rates, droplets coalesce on the fiber to form drops large enough that they fall and sweep up the downstream droplets. (Image and research credit: C. Gabbard and J. Bostwick)