A team of American scientists has observed an unprecedented phenomenon in space weather: rain of ultrafast electrons emanating from the radiation belts that surround our planet.
phenomena on an unprecedented scale
Electron showers are nothing new, nor are they particularly problematic most of the time. The Electrons and other charged particles accumulate in magnetosphere subordinate a land, bouncing between the north and south poles. Winds and solar storms can rip each other apart, sending them into Earth’s atmosphere where they can contribute to the aurora borealis.
researchers fromUniversity of California They discovered a new mechanism causing electronic rain on an unprecedented scale. In this particular case, electromagnetic waves sibilant »Pass through the magnetosphere plasma and accelerate the electrons it contains, which leads to the rapid and massive fall of the latter on the Earth’s atmosphere.
Detailed in the review Nature CommunicationsThis work involved analyzing data collected by a pair of microsatellites genieplaced in low Earth orbit and capable of detecting and measuring electronic rain and satellite network Themis subordinate NASA, which made it possible to determine the levels of the whistling wave. The combination of these two groups revealed a clear link between the latter and ultra-fast electronic showers, which logically proves that they are more frequent during solar storms.
According to the researchers, it is important that our models take into account weather phenomena in space, which can disrupt satellites in low orbit, damage equipment on board passing spacecraft or affect the health of astronauts.
“ Despite the popular belief that space is separate from our upper atmosphere, the two are closely related. “, to remember Vasilis Angelopoulos, lead author of the study. ” Understanding the nature of these bonds is essential, both for vehicles in orbit, but also for humans.. »