One of the most incredible breakthroughs in physics has been made by scientists from NASA’s Magnetosphere Multiscale Mission. They understood how energetic magnetic flashes appear on the Sun, which release such a stream of energy that it can power the entire world for 20,000 years.
The explosive process that causes solar flares is called magnetic reconnection. To understand its cause, researchers have spent more than 60 years. Scientists on the NASA MMS mission believe that a more complete understanding of the process will provide an opportunity to better study nuclear fusion, as well as predict solar storms that affect technological objects in low Earth orbit.
How does fast magnetic reconnection happen?
NASA’s MMS theory explains how the most explosive type of magnetic reconnection, fast reconnection, occurs. It is based on the general magnetic effect, which is also used in household appliances.
Magnetic reconnection is a process that occurs in a plasma. It is also formed if the gas receives as much energy as it needs to split its atoms, and leaves behind a lot of charged negative electrons and positive ions. Such an energy material is similar to a liquid and is highly sensitive to magnetic fields.
Throughout the universe, plasma undergoes magnetic reconnection that converts energy into heat and acceleration. There are several types of this process, but fast reconnection has remained the most mysterious. It occurs at a constant speed, but what exactly drives this speed for scientists remained a mystery.
A new theory proves that the fast reconnection is due to the Hall effect. It describes the interaction between a magnetic field and an electric current, and is the most common magnetic phenomenon used in everyday appliances.
When magnetic reconnection occurs, the charged ions and electrons stop moving like grains and move separately. In this case, the Hall effect occurs, which creates an unstable energy vacuum, and reconnection occurs in it. The pressure of the magnetic fields around this vacuum causes it to explode, releasing large amounts of energy at a predictable rate.
Thus, according to the results of the study, the fast reconnection is explained by the Hall effect. It occurs at a constant rate and is considered the most dangerous type of solar flare. At the same time, one such energy flash is capable of providing peace for 20,000 years.
Understanding how magnetic reconnection works can make it easier to predict geomagnetic storms and solar flares, the researchers say. They have a strong influence on humanity. Also, understanding fast reconnection will allow advances in energy research – scientists will be able to much better control the magnetic fields in fusion equipment.
The theory has yet to be tested by NASA’s magnetospheric large-scale mission, which uses special space satellites that orbit the Earth in the form of a tetrahedron. They are needed to study magnetic reconnection in a collisionless plasma at the highest resolution currently available. This allows you to make research more accurate.