Researchers have been trying for the past several years to unveil the mystery behind space weather. However, it sounds like an alien fiction, space weather is something which is vital to all of us. The sun is thrusting millions of tons of charged, hot plasma into the space every second. This ‘solar wind’ thrashes the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth, which caused strong geomagnetic storms that can destroy satellites, blackout power grids and disrupt cell phone service.
Researchers, Conducting Studies From Across the U.S.
Researchers are continuously trying to predict these solar outbursts which will eventually help us take measures to cope with them. They conducted experiments in order to uncover the physics behind space weather. Researchers will present results of their studies at the 56th annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics in New Orleans.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory researchers show how magnetic reconnection accelerates the solar wind to high energy, and how the subsequent solar wind interacts with the solar wind surrounding the Earth. Magnetic reconnection is an explosive phenomenon that occurs in solar flares. In the meantime, Michael Brown, Swarthmore College professor used a plasma “wind tunnel” to imitate signatures of magnetic turbulence in the solar wind.
University of California, Los Angeles researchers have recorded observations of how plasma magnetic waves interrelate with each other. Satellite measurements indicate that the observed interactions could explain the behavior of the hot plasma. These studies on physical processes were conducted to understand what happens in the space.
A Major Milestone in Space Weather Research
Huge bursts of plasma from the sun were created by magnetic reconnection.However, up till now, researchers had not been able to find out how reconnection converts magnetic energy into the explosive particle energy. Researchers at the Plasma Physics Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy have offered new insights into space weather.
The researchers conducted a Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) study, in which they identified how the transformation of magnetic energy to particle energy takes place. Moreover, they also experimentally measured the amount of magnetic energy that gets converted into explosive particle energy. The reconnection converts about 50% of magnetic energy, researchers said. 1/3 of the conversion heats the electrons and the remaining 2/3 speed up the ions in the plasma.
“It was a major milestone in the space weather research,” Masaaki Yamada, lead author of the MRX study said.