Earth is leaking air. But not THAT much!

Good that I am subscribed to EarthSky.org. Recenlty I found out that Earth is leaking air, more specifically Hydrogen and Helium. The good news is that we do not leak THAT much and we can still be happy around here for a couple billions years more. Hooray.

Usually you would need 11 000 m/s or 32 times the speed of sound, which is 340 m/s, to escape Earth’s attraction (commonly known as escape velocity) and get into space, however Helium and Hydrogen are able to escape because they get enough energy from the Sun’s heat to escape.

Others are fast moving charged particles that would be usually stopped by Earth’s magnetic field, however when they collide with other molecules they “lend” an electron and thus become neutral and cannot be hold into place by the magnetic field thus escaping Earth like crazy.

Another way we can lose Hydrogen or Helium is by having weak ends in the magnetic field due to the solar wind. The charged particles reach those weak ends and are then able to escape.

The air we lose is about 1 meter wide balloon every second and that means that Earth is leaking very slowly, as it would take billions of years to lose the entire Hydrogen this way. Voila. We’re safe once again and all thanks to the magnetic field, which protects us form the solar wind and keeps track of the fast moving charged particles that would be simply leaving us on the spot.

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