Scientists reveal that the Moon is capable of presenting a comet-like tail that fires a beam of energy around the Earth. The lunar phenomenon is the result of the impact of meteors on the volcanic surface of the Earth’s satellite, responsible for releasing sodium atoms in the region of its orbit. There is a process of collision between these particles with photons originating from the Sun, creating a structure similar to the trail of the movement of space bodies.
The event is observed monthly in the New Moon phase, when it moves between the Earth and the Sun. This sodium flow – invisible to the naked eye – is then compressed in a beam by the force of the planet’s gravity. The research was published in the scientific journal Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
The study was conducted by Jeffrey Baumgardner, Luke Moore and Sarah Luettgen, of the Center for Space Physics at Boston University. For the researchers, the motivation to explain the origin of the hitherto mysterious episode came out of curiosity, so they positioned cameras – designed to detect auroras – aimed at the region.
The theory that the Moon can emit a beam towards Earth was first suggested in 1998 by the McDonald Observatory (Texas). The phenomenon was discovered during the Leonidas meteor shower peak, associated with the passage of the comet Tempel-Tuttle that happens every year. At the time, experts in the field were intrigued to verify the permanence – for 3 nights – of a bright spot just after one of these peaks.
After efforts to explain its origin, scientists estimate that the sodium tail should extend to at least 800,000 kilometers from the site and reveal a lunar dynamism. However, Moore points out that there is no reason to be concerned about atoms, as they are extremely diffuse in space.