Physics has revealed the secret birth of the particles that cause auroras
MOSCOW, 13 Dec — RIA Novosti. The electron fluxes in the Earth radiation belts are the result of interactions of cosmic rays with atoms in the upper atmosphere of the planet, “knocked out” of these neutrons, said in an article published in the journal Nature.
“We were the first to capture the birth of these high-energy electrons at the inner edge of the van Allen belts. We were able to solve the mystery over which physicists have puzzled for almost six decades,” said Singling Lee (Xinlin Li) from the University of Colorado at boulder (USA).
The earth, unlike Venus and other planets in the Solar system, has its own magnetic field that is produced by the movement of the liquid streams of metal in its core.
This magnetic field plays the role of a “shield”, which reflects cosmic rays, charged particles of high energies, and protects the Earth from solar wind and coronal mass ejections on the Sun.
Traces of its existence are the so-called van Allen belts — two regions at altitudes of about 6 thousand and 60 thousand kilometers from the Earth’s surface, where there are a large number of protons and electrons of high energies, “caught” the Earth’s magnetic field and moving in a kind of a magnetic trap. Their interaction with the atmosphere produces beautiful polar lights, and, in times of solar flares, caused radio interference and other technical problems.
One of the main mysteries of the van Allen belts since their discovery in 1958, is where are the electrons and protons of high energies that inhabit the radiation shield of the earth and generates a flash at the poles of the planet. As Lee notes, scientists have long suspected that their source is cosmic rays, colliding with atoms in the atmosphere, however, unequivocal evidence they had.