Scientists have discovered hot atomic hydrogen atoms that exist in the upper layer of Earth's atmosphere known as thermosphere.
This particular finding is of significant importance as it may change the current understanding of hydrogen (H) distribution and its interaction with other atmospheric constituents, researchers believe.
H atoms are said to be very light, they can easily overcome a planet's gravitational force and permanently escape into interplanetary space.
Escape of H atoms is one reason why Earth's sister planet, Mars, has lost the majority of its water, researchers said.
H atoms play a major role in :
-Physics governing the Earth's upper atmosphere
-serve as an important shield for societies' technological assets,
“Hot H atoms had been theorised to exist at very high altitudes, above several thousand kilometres, but our discovery that they exist as low as 250 kilometres was truly surprising,” said Lara Waldrop, Assistant Professor from University of Illinois' Coordinated Science Laboratory in the US.
“This result suggests that current atmospheric models are missing some key physics that impacts many different studies, ranging from atmospheric escape to the thermal structure of the upper atmosphere,” said Waldrop.
Scientists gave out an explanation of upper atmospheric physics did not allow for the presence of hot H atoms at greater heights. The finding was published in the journal Nature Communications.