magnetic reconnection

23 Dec 2015

At ... NASAs MMS mission (Magnetospheric Multiscale) is looking at magnetic effects caused by the solar wind. The explosive realignment of magnetic fields is known as magnetic reconnection and is thought to take place at the boundaries of Earth's magnetic bubble. Magnetic reconnection, it is alleged, can connect Earth's magnetic field to the interplanetary magnetic field as carried by the solar wind and coronal mass ejection events (CMEs). NASAs MMS mission studies this phenomenon by flying through the boundaries of Earth's magnetic field. What is being looked out for is an alignment of electric and magnetic fields over and aboe the simplified understanding of plasma.

At the GSU meeting in San Francisco this December a spokesman said space is filled with electrically charged particles and electric and magnetic fields (plasma). The effects of reconnection in the aftermath of CMEs and solar flares is what is being investigated. Reconnection is fundamentally the release of energy and causes the plasma to heat up dramatically. However, the elusive mechanism as to why and how it happens has not been reached but they are looking for an alignment of electric and magnetic fields, and MMS is providing lots of data yet to be sifted.

Meanwhile, at ... the Hubble space telescope has taken an image of a newly born star shooting out twin jets into space

  The new star is located in our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

At ... aurora are present all the time in the polar regions but in general are too dim to see clearly. However, the lights explode into brightness when plasma (hot charged particles) gather in near-earth space and when magnetic field lines reconnect the plasma explodes creating an electrical current above the polar regions. The electric current overflows near the aurora and causes the plasma to rotate and discharge extra amounts of electricity giving rise to a surge in energy flow (the very bright auroral phenomenon). The Japanese author of the study published his findings in the Journal of Geophyscial Research and says this is nothing like what space physicists had in mind. Sounds straight out of the Electric Universe song book.

At ... magnetic fields can be seen in star formation and appear to play a major role in the accretion of the disc of gas - and once again it is rotating. This research was published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.