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.

In the past, scientists thought that all the electrons in the radiation belts around the Earth obeyed the same physics. We are finding now that radiation belts consist of different populations that are driven by very different physical processes.

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