Earth is a habitable planet, much thanks to the vast magnetic field that surrounds the planet, shielding us from harsh solar winds and cosmic radiation. Without it we would be cooked up by cosmic radiation.
But as scientists have been investigating one of the most powerful geomagnetic storms in recent history it turned out our magnetosphere has been cracked.
Researchers have been analysing data from the GRAPES-3 telescope in India, which recorded a massive burst of cosmic rays on 22 June 2015.
For about two hours, Earth’s magnetosphere was being bombarded by these particles which struck the magnetosphere at speeds of about 2.5 million kilometers per hour.
This storm was responsible for radio signal blackouts in many countries in North and South America.
A team from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India studied the GRAPES-3's data from that day, and the results indicate that the magnetosphere had been temporarily cracked.
The team says the bombardment caused a compression of the magnetosphere, forcing it to shrink from 11 to 4 times Earth's radius.
The researchers say, the fact that this happened at all is a concern, because it suggests that our magnetic field might be changing.