Scientists may have figured out when and how the high-energy particles that hit Earth and other objects emerge from violent environments like the sun’s atmosphere.
These high-energy particles pose a hazard to sensitive satellite technology and astronauts, and can affect planes flying over the North Pole. Researchers have studied these particles for decades, but it’s been difficult to see a clear pattern of when the flares will occur and to predict when they will occur.
In a new study based on supercomputer-generated simulations, scientists have identified the plasma in the Sun’s outer atmosphere as the source of these high-energy particles.
“This exciting new research will enable us to more accurately predict the origin of solar particles and improve predictive models for space weather events, an important goal for NASA, other space agencies and governments around the world. “Columbia University and the study’s co-authors said in a statement. The outer atmosphere of the sun, the corona, is made up of plasma. In other words, electrons are being stripped from atoms by harsh conditions. Solar scientists believe that highly energetic particles are created in this highly turbulent sea of stripped atoms (ions) and electrons.
His Comisso and Lorenzo Sironi, also from Colombia, used supercomputers at NASA, Columbia, and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center to develop simulations to model the precise movement of electrons and ions in the solar plasma. did. This created a suitable surrogate for the corona and provided the most comprehensive data to date on how and when energetic particles form in this region. Simulations have shown that the corona’s magnetic field can accelerate electrons and ions to nearly the speed of light, hurling them into space.
However, it has been difficult to study because the plasma moves erratically and unpredictably, and it remains a mystery as to when and how the high-energy particles are produced.
The research will help solve a question the scientist has pondered since his 1949. It was at this time that Enrico his Fermi first began to study the cosmic magnetic field as a source of high-energy particles that were observed to collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. Fermi’s work has led physicists to think that the sun’s plasma may be behind many of these particles, and others may have been flung to Earth from space. However, proving this hypothesis has been difficult.
The team’s findings were based on simulations, but NASA’s Parker Solar Probe could help validate the research further, Comisso said. The Parker Solar Probe has been observing our star since the spacecraft launched in 2018. Part of the mission is to study the turbulent atmosphere of the Sun. This will allow the Parker Solar Probe to directly observe the distribution of high-energy particles produced in the corona.
The results of the new research have implications beyond the solar system. All stars are mainly composed of plasma. This means that most of the matter that astronomers see is in this state of matter (not gas, liquid, or solid).
High-energy particles have been observed around neutron stars and black holes in addition to the sun and other stars, which may be explained by a better knowledge of how plasma accelerates particles. This makes it possible to run more simulations to examine how far-off stars, black holes, and neutron stars produce their own high-energy particles.
Our findings are centered on the sun, but they can also be viewed as a point of departure for a deeper comprehension of the production of high-energy particles in more far-off stars and in the vicinity of black holes, according to Comisso. We’ve only begun to learn about how these particles are created throughout the universe from supercomputer simulations.
- Researchers follow high-energy particles to the sun’s plasma
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