high energy electrons

Diving into New Magnetic Territory with the MMS Mission

Our Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, or MMS, is on a journey to study a new region of space.  

On May 4, 2017, after three months of precisely coordinated maneuvers, MMS reached its new orbit to begin studying the magnetic environment on the ever-rotating nighttime side of Earth.

The space around Earth is not as empty as it looks. It’s packed with high energy electrons and ions that zoom along magnetic field lines and surf along waves created by electric and magnetic fields.  

MMS studies how these particles move in order to understand a process known as magnetic reconnection, which occurs when magnetic fields explosively collide and re-align.

After launch, MMS started exploring the magnetic environment on the side of Earth closest to the sun. Now, MMS has been boosted into a new orbit that tops out twice as high as before, at over 98,000 miles above Earth’s surface.

The new orbit will allow the spacecraft to study magnetic reconnection on the night side of Earth, where the process is thought to cause the northern and southern lights and energize particles that fill the radiation belts, a doughnut-shaped region of trapped particles surrounding Earth.  

MMS uses four separate but identical spacecraft, which fly in a tight pyramid formation known as a tetrahedron. This allows MMS to map the magnetic environment in three dimensions.

MMS made many discoveries during its first two years in space, and its new orbit will open the door to even more. The information scientists get from MMS will help us better understand our space environment, which helps in planning future missions to explore even further beyond our planet. Learn more about MMS at nasa.gov/mms.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

My ears were elated  when I stumbled across this rambunctious EDM remix of “Thanks For The Memories” by the punk rock legends, Fall Out Boy. The tune manages is vibey, intense, and fun all while preserving the track’s original angst filled essence. High energy electronic drops with blasting synths and etherial melodies all make this tune one to be remembered. Throw this one on your party playlist ASAP and enjoy.

Made with SoundCloud

TheFatRat dropped a new one today, and it’s a massive one, kids. Then again, when isn’t it massive when the Los Angeles producer releases something new? Time Lapse is a high energy, whimsical electronic jam that defies genre expectations. It’s electro, but glitchy. It’s disco flavored, but hoppy. It’s bubbly, yet progressively uplifting. I’m dizzy, in a good way! Somehow, as TheFatRat has succeeded in doing previously, too, the feel good banger also brings a tinge of nostalgia into my heart.

Made with SoundCloud

Star Trek-like invisible shield found thousands of miles above Earth

A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered an invisible shield some 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks so-called “killer electrons,” which whip around the planet at near-light speed and have been known to threaten astronauts, fry satellites and degrade space systems during intense solar storms.

The barrier to the particle motion was discovered in the Van Allen radiation belts, two doughnut-shaped rings above Earth that are filled with high-energy electrons and protons, said Distinguished Professor Daniel Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Held in place by Earth’s magnetic field, the Van Allen radiation belts periodically swell and shrink in response to incoming energy disturbances from the sun.

As the first significant discovery of the space age, the Van Allen radiation belts were detected in 1958 by Professor James Van Allen and his team at the University of Iowa and were found to be comprised of an inner and outer belt extending up to 25,000 miles above Earth’s surface. In 2013, Baker – who received his doctorate under Van Allen – led a team that used the twin Van Allen Probes launched by NASA in 2012 to discover a third, transient “storage ring” between the inner and outer Van Allen radiation belts that seems to come and go with the intensity of space weather.

The latest mystery revolves around an “extremely sharp” boundary at the inner edge of the outer belt at roughly 7,200 miles in altitude that appears to block the ultrafast electrons from breeching the shield and moving deeper towards Earth’s atmosphere.

“It’s almost like theses electrons are running into a glass wall in space,” said Baker, the study’s lead author. “Somewhat like the shields created by force fields on Star Trek that were used to repel alien weapons, we are seeing an invisible shield blocking these electrons. It’s an extremely puzzling phenomenon.”

A paper on the subject was published in the Nov. 27 issue of Nature.

The team originally thought the highly charged electrons, which are looping around Earth at more than 100,000 miles per second, would slowly drift downward into the upper atmosphere and gradually be wiped out by interactions with air molecules. But the impenetrable barrier seen by the twin Van Allen belt spacecraft stops the electrons before they get that far, said Baker.

The group looked at a number of scenarios that could create and maintain such a barrier. The team wondered if it might have to do with Earth’s magnetic field lines, which trap and control protons and electrons, bouncing them between Earth’s poles like beads on a string. The also looked at whether radio signals from human transmitters on Earth could be scattering the charged electrons at the barrier, preventing their downward motion. Neither explanation held scientific water, Baker said.

“Nature abhors strong gradients and generally finds ways to smooth them out, so we would expect some of the relativistic electrons to move inward and some outward,” said Baker. “It’s not obvious how the slow, gradual processes that should be involved in motion of these particles can conspire to create such a sharp, persistent boundary at this location in space.”

Another scenario is that the giant cloud of cold, electrically charged gas called the plasmasphere, which begins about 600 miles above Earth and stretches thousands of miles into the outer Van Allen belt, is scattering the electrons at the boundary with low frequency, electromagnetic waves that create a plasmapheric “hiss,” said Baker. The hiss sounds like white noise when played over a speaker, he said.

While Baker said plasmaspheric hiss may play a role in the puzzling space barrier, he believes there is more to the story. “I think the key here is to keep observing the region in exquisite detail, which we can do because of the powerful instruments on the Van Allen probes. If the sun really blasts the Earth’s magnetosphere with a coronal mass ejection (CME), I suspect it will breach the shield for a period of time,” said Baker, also a faculty member in the astrophysical and planetary sciences department.

“It’s like looking at the phenomenon with new eyes, with a new set of instrumentation, which give us the detail to say, ‘Yes, there is this hard, fast boundary,’” said John Foster, associate director of MIT’s Haystack Observatory and a study co-author.

IMAGE….Scientists have discovered an invisible shield roughly 7,200 miles above Earth.

Credit: Andy Kale, University of Alberta


JAXA launches radiation belt research satellite on enhanced Epsilon rocket. 

Marking its first operational launch, an enhanced version of Japan’s Epsilon rocket blasted off carrying a mission to study how Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts could affect future astronauts and robotic missions.

The Exploration of Energization and Radiation in Geospace launched from the Uchinoura space center at 8pm Japan Standard Time (6am EDT), beginning a 13-minute climb to a highly elliptical orbit. Epsilon’s three stages performed flawlessly, clearing the vehicle towards operational status.

Operated by JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, ERG will work in conjunction with NASA’s dual Radiation Belt Solar Probes, which were launched in 2012. Together, the three spacecraft will study high-energy electrons and their interactions with space weather. ERG, in an elliptical orbit, will measure conditions downstream from the RBSP probes, which are closer to Earth’s equator.

RBSP was approved by NASA for an extended mission in 2014 with the intent of working jointly with ERG; JAXA received funding from the Japanese government for ERG largely in part to the two agencies plans to incorporate the two missions.

Once ERG successfully reached orbit, JAXA renamed the satellite Arase, after a dynamic river flowing near the Uchinoura launch base.

UPDATE: Official JAXA highlight video from the Arase mission:

Particles and Matter

According to the Standard Model, ordinary matter is made of fermions, or rather, by the first-generation fermion particles, namely, electrons and up and down quarks, which make up protons and neutrons in various combinations (approximately, a proton is made by the combination u-u-d, while a neutron by the combination u-d-d). The particles of the second and third generations have a larger mass, so they are highly unstable and can only be produced in the laboratory.

I’m not quite clear on the last part of the ask. Quarks are indeed researched through smashing, but their existence was first hypothesized theoretically by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig in 1964. Then the hypothesis was confirmed at the end of the sixties from studies conducted at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC ). When high energy electrons were fired at protons and neutrons –analyzing the energy and angular distribution of electrons– they observed that some of these electrons were bumping into electrically charged, point-like objects contained inside protons and neutrons, proving in this way quarks’ existence. 

So, the atom is not the smallest particle, but the use of subatomic particles makes sense only in nuclear physics. The other physical and chemical processes make sense at the atomic level and, in fact, the atom is now defined as the smallest unit of an element that retains all the element’s properties.

Image: [x]
Asked by whovians-in-purgatory 

What is Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Radiation?

Alpha radiation is high-energy electrons or positrons, two protons and two neutrons sticking together with no electrons around. Very potent, but penetrates matter weakly. A sheet of paper (or your skin) will block them. When alpha-active matter is ingested it will cause major problems.

Beta radiation is high-energy electrons. Similarly to Alpha radiation, both are made of particles and penetrate matter weakly. Beta radiation can be blocked by a thin sheet of metal.

Gamma radiation is extremely high frequency photons, beyond UV and X-rays. It penetrates matter easily and you need excessive lead shielding to filter out a lethal dose.