According to the scientists, the structures are strikingly organized, appearing as regularly spaced, alternating tubes of overdensities and underdensities strongly aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field.
“We measured their position to be about 370 miles (600 km) above the ground, in the upper ionosphere, and they appear to be continuing upwards into the plasmasphere,” Ms Loi said.
“This is around where the neutral atmosphere ends, and we are transitioning to the plasma of outer space.”
Dr Tara Murphy, also from the University of Sydney and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics, added: “when they first saw the data, many of her senior collaborators thought the results were literally ‘too good to be true’ and that the observation process had somehow corrupted the findings, but over the next few months, Ms Loi managed to convince them that they were both real and scientifically interesting.”
The findings are reported in a paper published online by the journal Geophysical Research Letters on May 25, 2015.