NASA is Discovers Strange Magnetic Explosion in the Earth’s Turbulent Outer Atmosphere: Scientists have discovered an entirely new magnetic phenomenon in the outer reaches of Earth’s magnetic field with the help of four NASA spacecraft. According to a new study publishing in the journal Nature.
NASA is Discovers Strange Magnetic Explosion in the Earth’s Turbulent Outer Atmosphere
The spacecraft form part of the Magnetosphere Multiscale mission, which is designed to study so-called magnetic reconnection is a physical process that is occurring which is common throughout the universe in magnetic fields.
An explosion of TNT is a release of chemical energy. An atomic bomb is a release of nuclear power.
Magnetic reconnection is a magnetic explosion that is, a sudden release of magnetic energy, Michael Shay from the University of Delaware is an author of the study, tells the News.
Magnetic reconnection is causing these explosions in many regions in space.
Solar flares on the sun, for example, are caused by magnetic reconnection. Vast aurorae on the Earth are due to energetic particles created by magnetic reconnection.
Jonathan Eastwood, a physicist from Imperial College London and another author of the study, adds,
Although we think of space as empty, it is not filling with the particles and fields, so-called space plasmas.
When energy is releasing by reconnection, it creates hot jets of plasma. Plasma is a super-hot form of gas that is one of the four fundamental states of matter.
Now, for the first time, the process of magnetic reconnection has observed in a turbulent region of the Earth’s outer atmosphere which is known as the magnetosheath.
which acts as the first line of defence against the barrage of hot, charging particles produced by the sun, known as the solar wind.
The latest findings can provide insights into how these magnetic phenomena affect Earth’s atmosphere, as well as astronauts in space, satellites, electrical power industries, radio communications and GPS systems.
The new type of magnetic reconnection is known as electron magnetic reconnection. It works differently from the kind that commonly occurs in the lower, less turbulent regions of the Earth’s magnetosphere the magnetic fields that surround our planet.
Most think of turbulence as the air currents which can cause a plane ride to be uncomfortably bumpy.
However, disturbance also occurs elsewhere in the universe.
Turbulence is characterising by seemingly random flows of a gas, liquid or plasma, Shay says.
We all have seen it or experiencing the stream of smoke from a cigarette breaks up; the creamer we pour in our coffee that makes beautiful patterns before it thoroughly mixes; a plane ride gets bumpy when it travels through turbulence in our atmosphere.
He continues, many regions in space have a turbulent plasma. The outer layers of the sun are turbulent.
Solar wind blasting off by the sun is turbulent. This solar wind smashes up against the Earth’s magnetic field, creating a violent sheath of plasma around and near the Earth space.
The turbulence in this magnetosheath contains a lot of magnetic energy, which is a result of it bombards by particles from sun’s corona that travel at around 1 million miles per hour.
This region is where the scientists make their discovery.
We find reconnection happening on microscopic scales, smaller than ever seen before, Eastwood says.
It is important because ultimately the intense energy must be dissipating as heat.
For a long time, we have to debate how this happens, and there are lots of theories. This result shows that reconnection can play that role.
By better understanding the processes of turbulence and reconnection, we will able to know more about how similar methods work in a variety of fields. It can have some implications.
The ultimate goal of our research is to understand the physics well enough to create predictive space weather models, Shay says.
As an analogy, for normal weather, atmospheric models are using extensively to guide NOAA weather predictions.
With better models, we can predict space weather hazards several days before they occur, allowing mitigation activities one, satellite operators can put their multimillion-dollar satellites in ‘safe’ mode, or two, military planners can expect possible communication disruptions.
He continued, also, NASA is pushing to return man to the moon and eventually send a manned mission to Mars.
In these missions, our spacecraft have to leave the protective bubble of the Earth’s magnetic field or magnetosphere.
If we cannot predict space weather events, we can put astronauts in harm’s way.
For example, reconnection in turbulence may be important for creating these high-energy particles, which can hurt astronauts.
We have to understand if it is and what implications it has for space weather, Shay says.
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