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View Full Version : "Lucky" Cluster Spacecraft Buffeted by the Solar Wind



Fraser
2006-May-22, 04:09 PM
SUMMARY: ESA's Cluster spacecraft were in the right place at the right time when they flew through a region of the Earth's magnetic field that accelerates electrons to approximately 1/100th the speed of light. The region is called the electron diffusion region; a boundary just a few kilometres thick between the Earth's magnetic field and the Sun's. Over the course of an hour, the spacecraft were engulfed in an electron diffusion region, as the solar wind was causing this layer to move back and forth.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/cluster_thru_earth_magneto.html)
What do you think about this story? post your comments below.

Jerry
2006-May-22, 05:48 PM
Has anyone calculated at what frequency ranges these events occupy? It looks to me like a great candidate mechanism for the Zodiac pole in the microwave background.

George
2006-May-22, 06:54 PM
What sort of amperage is involved? Do we have a linear accelerator that's free of charge? Oops, poor phrasing. Do we have a linear accelerator that costs nothing to operate? :)

iantresman
2006-May-23, 09:19 AM
ESA's Cluster satellites have flown through regions of the Earth's magnetic field that accelerate electrons to approximately one hundredth the speed of light.
I wonder whether the gas giants, or even the Sun has analogous regions, and whether they would accelerate ions to even greater speeds, perhaps even relatavistic velocities... resulting in synchrotron radiation?


An electron diffusion region is like an electrical switch. When it is flipped, it uses energy stored in the Sun's and Earth's magnetic fields to heat the electrically charged particles in its vicinity to large speeds.
OK, so the energy comes from the magnetic field, but what causes the acceleration. Presumably it's the same mechanism that accelerates auoral ions?

Regards,
Ian Tresman

Tim Thompson
2006-May-23, 01:54 PM
OK, so the energy comes from the magnetic field, but what causes the acceleration. Presumably it's the same mechanism that accelerates auoral ions?
It all boils down to Faraday's Law (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/farlaw.html#c1). Any time-varying magnetic field generates an electric field, and the electric field accelerates the particles.