NASA Spacecraft Finds New Magnetic Process in Turbulent Space

NASA Spacecraft Finds New Magnetic Process in Turbulent Space

The discovery of the phenomenon of turbulent magnetic reconnection with the NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft would be of a great importance in studying the Sun and to help scientists comprehend the function of magnetic reconnection the Sun's corona and in speeding up the supersonic solar winds. But if energy can be neither created nor destroyed, where does it all go?

Magnetic reconnection occurs throughout the universe, so whatever scientists learn about it near Earth can be applied to other phenomena.

The turbulence in the magnetosheath have lots of magnetic energy, as said by Tai Phan, who is the senior fellow at the Space Sciences Laboratory from the University of California, which is placed at Berkeley.

Accordingly, it would be as if when the magnetic fields are ruptured and relinked, the magnetic energy is then turned into high-velocity electron jets.

For more information, you can check the study in the journal Nature.

"Turbulence occurs everywhere in space: on the sun, in the solar wind, interstellar medium, dynamos, accretion disks around stars, in active galactic nuclei jets, supernova remnant shocks and more".

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The process named magnetic reconnection takes place in Earth's outer atmosphere known as magnetosheath and forms planet's first line of defense against intense solar wind. They additionally figured out how to see the stream of ionized hydrogen molecules that radiate from it. The objective of a large-scale study of NASA is to understand how the magnetosphere protects the planet from the devastating effects of solar wind, writes the Chronicle.info with reference to Around the world. Twice the width of the Earth itself, this zone - the magnetosheath - is highly turbulent. As said, it is about magnetic reconnection, a major process in the charged particle-filled space referred to as plasma, which revolves around the Earth. The fundamental process actually dissipates stream of charged particles or plasma released from the sun and converts them into high-speed jets of electrons. The electrons move about 40 times faster than ions accelerated by standard reconnection.

Magnetic reconnection has been observed innumerable times in the magnetosphere - the magnetic environment around Earth - but usually under calm conditions.

Researchers call this phenomenon an "electron magnetic reconnection". Previously, scientists didn't know if reconnection could occur there, because the plasma is highly chaotic in that region, Phan said. This discovery is very important as it could one day lead to a better understanding of space environment.

Until now, scientists have seen this event in the universe and in our planet's magnetosphere.

MMS found that it does, but on scales much smaller than previous spacecraft could probe and theory would predict. "This study shows that reconnection indeed can happen at the electron scale, with no ions involved at all, suggesting that reconnection may help dissipate magnetic energy at very small scales". Flying in a pyramid formation with as little as 4.5 miles' distance between four identical spacecraft, MMS imaged electrons within the pyramid once every 30 milliseconds. The MMS mission contains four spacecraft that fly about four miles apart and gather data as they travel. Furthermore, MMS's instruments are created to capture data at speeds 100 times faster than previous missions.

Even though the instruments aboard MMS are incredibly fast, they are still too slow to capture turbulent reconnection in action, which requires observing narrow layers of fast moving particles hurled by the recoiling field lines.

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