University of California, Berkeley | 2018 May 09
When the solar wind – which is really a driving rain of charged particles from the sun – strikes Earth’s protective magnetic field, the shock generates roiling, turbulent magnetic fields that enshroud the planet and stretch for hundreds of thousands of miles.Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft (MMS) — Credit: NASA/GSFC/Joy Ng
Music credits: ‘Think Tank’ and ‘Natural Time Cycles’ by Laurent Dury
Where does all that turbulent energy go?
One of NASA’s space weather missions, called Magnetospheric Multiscale or MMS, has discovered one surprising way this turbulent energy is dissipated: The magnetic energy is converted into high-speed jets of electrons as the magnetic fields break and reconnect.
The discovery will help scientists understand the role magnetic reconnection plays elsewhere in space, for example, in heating the inexplicably hot solar corona — the sun’s outer atmosphere — and accelerating the supersonic solar wind. NASA’s upcoming Parker Solar Probe mission will be launched directly toward the sun this summer to investigate exactly those phenomena, armed with this new understanding of magnetic reconnection near Earth.
And since magnetic reconnection occurs throughout the universe, what scientists learn about it around our planet — which is easier to examine — can be applied to other processes farther away. ...
New Research Reveals How Energy Dissipates outside Earth’s Magnetic Field
University of Maryland | College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Science | 2018 May 09
MMS Discovers New Magnetic Process in Turbulent Space
NASA | GSFC | MMS | 2018 May 09
Electron Magnetic Reconnection Without Ion Coupling in Earth’s Turbulent Magnetosheath - Tai D. Phan et al
- Nature 557(7704):202 (10 May 2018) DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0091-5