Solar Storms Wipe Out Electrons in Earth’s Radiation Belt – Video

5 February, 2012 at 07:05 | Posted in Science | Leave a comment
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By Cassie Ryan
Epoch Times Staff

As the sun approaches solar maximum in 2013, new light has been shed upon the effect of solar events on our planet’s magnetosphere, according to a study to be published in Nature Physics on Jan. 29.

Astronomers at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) have discovered that most of the electrons in the Earth’s outer radiation belt vanish at the start of a geomagnetic storm, only to reappear a few hours later. This doughnut-shaped region is full of energetic electrons traveling at almost light speed.

“It’s a puzzling effect,” said study co-author Vassilis Angelopoulos in a press release. “Oceans on Earth do not suddenly lose most of their water, yet radiation belts filled with electrons can be rapidly depopulated.”

Originally noticed by scientists in the 1960s, the team elucidated this mystery using data collected from a fleet of orbiters, including NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms).

“What we are studying was the first discovery of the space age,” said study co-author Yuri Shprits in the release. “People realized that launches of spacecraft didn’t only make the news, they could also make scientific discoveries that were completely unexpected.”

Read more: Solar Storms Wipe Out Electrons in Earth’s Radiation Belt Video | Space & Astronomy | Science | Epoch Times


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