News from Working Group Magnetospheric Physics

Wave-induced loss of ultra-relativistic electrons in the Van Allen radiation belts

October 1, 2016

A geomagnetic storm on January 17, 2013, provided unique observations that finally resolved a long-standing scientific problem.

Dr. Tatiana Podladchikova Awarded International Alexander Chizhevsky Medal

January 8, 2016

Applied Mathematician Dr. Tatiana Podladchikova was awarded the International Alexander Chizhevsky Medal at the 12th European Space Weather Week, for major results in space weather.

Zebra stripes in space resolves a half-century mystery

July 27, 2015

This structure is pretty close to the Earth, which is important because people want to understand the environment where satellites operate. Usually plasma undergoes a number of different instabilities, and waves tend to move from one region in space to another, so everything you see is noisy, very short-lived, and on smaller scales. But this structure seems to be very persistent, highly coherent in space, and was remarkably organized and structured, which we didn’t know could exist to such high degree.

Unusual stable trapping of the ultrarelativistic electrons in the Van Allen radiation belts

September 29, 2013

RBM group scientists have successfully modeled and explained the unprecedented behavior of this third ring, showing that the extremely energetic particles that made up this ring, known as ultra-relativistic electrons, are driven by very different physics than typically observed Van Allen radiation belt particles. The region the belts occupy—ranging from about 1,000 to 50,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface—is filled with electrons so energetic they move close to the speed of light.

‘Dropout’ Electrons Get Pushed out of Van Allen Belt

February 1, 2012

UCLA researchers showed that the missing electrons are swept away from the planet by a tide of solar wind particles during periods of heightened solar activity. The data show that while a small amount of the missing energetic electrons did fall into the atmosphere, the vast majority was pushed away from the planet, stripped away from the radiation belt by the onslaught of solar wind particles during the heightened solar activity that generated the magnetic storm itself.

A Powerful Solar Storm Could Render Satellites Inoperable For Years

September 1, 2011

We found that in the absence of the cloud, electromagnetic waves accelerated large numbers of electrons to high speed in Earth’s inner radiation belt, causing a huge increase in radiation there. The inner radiation belt is densest at about 3000 kilometres above Earth’s equator, which is higher than low-Earth orbit. But the belt hugs Earth more tightly above high latitude regions, overlapping with satellites in low-Earth orbit.