DEC 01, 2020 5:54 AM PST

"Killer" electrons associated with the pulsating aurora

In a collaboration between scientists in Japan and the United States, a new study has been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters explaining the physics behind the phenomenon of the pulsating aurora.

According to the findings from the computer simulations conducted by the researchers, the pulsating aurora, unlike the aurora borealis and australis, has wide-ranging energies with both low- and high-energy electrons. Seen in the sky, it looks more like wisps of clouds than the well-known sheaths of color of the aurora borealis.

The scientists hypothesize that these wide-ranging energies are a result of the interactions between chorus waves (which are plasma waves that form close to the magnetic equator) and electrons in the Earth's magnetosphere. Some of the electrons they simulated have as little energy as a few hundred kiloelectron volts, while some electrons have as much as several thousand kiloelectron volts.

These high-energy electrons are called 'megaelectron' volts, or, as the researchers refer to them: killer electrons. They earned this name because of the destruction the research team thinks they cause in the mesosphere when they collide with satellites.

Photo: Pexels

"Our theory indicates that so-called killer electrons that precipitate into the middle atmosphere are associated with the pulsating aurora, and could be involved in ozone destruction," says Yoshizumi Miyoshi from Nagoya University's Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research.

In order to test out their theory, the team plans to use measurements from the LAMP mission, due to launch next year. LAMP (loss through auroral microburst pulsations) will hopefully provide observational data on the killer electrons.

Sources: Geophysical Research Letters, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
OCT 06, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Radioactive Tracer Shines the Floodlights on Inflammation
OCT 06, 2020
Radioactive Tracer Shines the Floodlights on Inflammation
A patient checks into the hospital with difficulty breathing. Is inflammation to blame? How can physicians visualize are ...
OCT 17, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Improving carbon capture technologies using membranes
OCT 17, 2020
Improving carbon capture technologies using membranes
Researchers from the International Institute for Carbo-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER), Kyushu University and NanoMembr ...
NOV 17, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Find Human Brain Shares Structure with Universe
NOV 17, 2020
Researchers Find Human Brain Shares Structure with Universe
Astrophysicist Franco Vazza from the University of Bologna, and Alberto Felett, a neurosurgeon at the University of Vero ...
NOV 19, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Unlocking the Secret of a Tasty Cold Drink
NOV 19, 2020
Unlocking the Secret of a Tasty Cold Drink
Sour beer isn't for everyone: its unique taste of acidity and tartness could excite some but turn off others.  ...
DEC 21, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Newly described hydrogen hydrate holds potential for hydrogen storage
DEC 21, 2020
Newly described hydrogen hydrate holds potential for hydrogen storage
A study published recently in the journal Physical Review Letters highlights the discovery of a new hydrogen clathr ...
JAN 17, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Cleaning up microfibers at the source with electrolytic oxidation
JAN 17, 2021
Cleaning up microfibers at the source with electrolytic oxidation
A new method of eradicating microplastics in wastewater has been described in a study published recently in the Env ...
Loading Comments...