Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pioneering 3D View Of Near-Earth Magnetic 'Dance'

Date:
July 1, 2007
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
Scientists have obtained the first-ever 3D picture of interconnected magnetic 'dances' in near-Earth space, known as magnetic reconnection events. The data from ESA's Cluster satellites will help to understand better magnetic reconnection, a process related to star formation, solar explosions and the entry of solar wind energy into the near-Earth environment.

A diagram illustrating the null-null line observed by Cluster's four spacecraft in the Earth's magnetotail on 1 October 2001.
Credit: Inset: Chinese Academy of Sciences (C. Xiao), background: NASA

Scientists have obtained the first-ever 3D picture of interconnected magnetic ‘dances’ in near-Earth space, known as magnetic reconnection events.

Related Articles


The data from ESA’s Cluster satellites will help to understand better magnetic reconnection, a process related to star formation, solar explosions and the entry of solar wind energy into the near-Earth environment.

Magnetic reconnection is the process whereby magnetic field lines from different magnetic domains collide and reconnect, mixing previously separated plasma. Plasma is a gas composed of ions and electrons but is electrically neutral, spread over large distances in space and guided by the action of magnetic and electric fields.

Magnetic reconnection converts the energy of the magnetic field into particle energy, generating jets and heating the plasma.

This affects us here on Earth because it can possibly affect telecom satellites and prevent the efficient production of electricity in controlled fusion reactors, potential sources of electricity for the future. On Earth, we can also see the effect in more intense displays of the Northern lights.

On 1 October 2001, the four Cluster spacecraft were flying in formation at approximately 110 000 km from Earth in the magnetotail, a long-tail-like structure on the night-side of Earth’s magnetic field. The satellites meandered around a reconnection region over a period of nearly 15 minutes.

During reconnection, the geometry of the magnetic field forms an X-shape, also called a ‘magnetic null’. Analysed in 2D, the magnetic field, plasma density and flow velocity data collected during this event showed that only one reconnection region with an X-shape, or a magnetic null, was seen by the satellites.

An international team of scientists led by Chinese researchers challenged this result, suggesting that it could be seen in 3D.

The researchers tested theoretical results published 20 years ago, which predicted that any small perturbation to such a reconnection site would produce not one, but two magnetically linked reconnection sites, a pair of magnetic nulls and magnetically linked reconnection geometry.

By analysing a subset of the same data in 3D with a higher temporal resolution, they found what they were looking for. Two magnetic reconnection sites jumped out, along with the null-null line which connects two magnetic nulls, a previously unobserved phenomenon.

The situation can be compared to viewing a cross section of a 3D volume in space. It is not possible, when looking into only one plane, to tell whether or not something is going on in another plane, in the same volume of space.

Only when seen in 3D, with Cluster’s multi-satellite viewpoints, could scientists determine that there actually were two, interlinked events occurring simultaneously.

When reduced to two dimensions, this complex 3D magnetic geometry is still consistent with past results obtained under the 2D assumption where the null-null line is seen as one X-point. It is also in agreement with past results found in the laboratory and by Cluster in space.

"For the first time, the link between two sites of magnetic reconnection has been observed in-situ, in 3-D. This result is another major scientific achievement of Cluster obtained owing to fruitful scientific collaborations between Chinese, American and European scientists", said Philippe Escoubet, Cluster and Double Star project scientist of the European Space Agency.

Notes for editors:

The article “Satellite Observations of Separator Line Geometry of Three-Dimensional Magnetic Reconnection” by C. Xiao, X. Wang, Z. Pu, Z. Ma, H. Zhao, G. Zhou, J. Wang, M. Kivelson, S. Fu, Z. Liu, Q. Zong, M. Dunlop, K-H. Glassmeier, E. Lucek, H. Rθme, I. Dandouras, C. Escoubet appeared on 24 June 2007 in the advance online publication of Nature Physics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Pioneering 3D View Of Near-Earth Magnetic 'Dance'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070630061101.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2007, July 1). Pioneering 3D View Of Near-Earth Magnetic 'Dance'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070630061101.htm
European Space Agency. "Pioneering 3D View Of Near-Earth Magnetic 'Dance'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070630061101.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins