Understanding the processes that control the formation and ultimate loss of such relativistic electrons is a primary science objective of the Van Allen Probes and has important practical applications, because of the enormous amounts of radiation trapped within the two Van Allen radiation belts. The belts, consisting of high-energy electrons and protons discovered above Earth's upper atmosphere in 1958 by
Such electrons in the Earth's outer radiation belt can exhibit pronounced increases in intensity, in response to activity on the sun, and changes in the solar wind - but the dominant physical mechanisms responsible for such radiation belt electron acceleration has remained unresolved for decades.
Two primary candidates for electron acceleration exist, one external and one internal. From outside the belts, a theoretical process known as inward radial diffusive transport has been developed. From within the belts, scientists hypothesize that the electrons are undergoing strong local acceleration from very low frequency plasma waves. Controversies also exist as to the very nature of the wave acceleration: Is it stochastic - that is, a linear and diffusive process - or is it non-linear and coherent?
In research published
"The successful point-by-point comparison of radiation belt features observed by the Van Allen Probes with the predictions of the state of the art model developed by
The detailed modeling reported in Nature, together with previous observations reported earlier this year in the journal Science [link to article ] of peaks in electron phase space density by
The local wave acceleration process is a universal physical process and should also be effective in the magnetospheres of Jupiter, Saturn and other magnetized plasma environments in the cosmos, Thorne said. He thinks the new results from the detailed analysis at Earth will influence future modeling of other planetary magnetospheres.
"This new finding is of paramount importance to unlocking the multitude of processes behind particle behavior in the belts," says
Keywords for this news article include: Spacecraft, Aerospace and Defense,
Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC
Most Popular Stories
- Obama Administration Releases Proposal to Regulate For-Profit Colleges
- Apple, HP, Intel May Take a Hit from Slowdown in Smartphone Sales Growth
- Elizabeth Vargas' Husband Marc Cohn Addresses Rumors
- Keurig Adds Peet's coffee, Alters Starbucks deal
- FDIC Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Banks Allegedly Hurt by Libor Scandal
- Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx Marries Model Courtney Bingham
- U.S. to Relinquish Gov't Control Over Internet
- Chinese e-Commerce Giant Alibaba Gears for IPO in U.S.
- Some California Cities Seeking Water Independence
- Will Missing Malaysian Jet Prompt Aviation System Change?