Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Artificial aurora created to help predict space weather

Date:
June 9, 2010
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
For more than 25 years, our understanding of terrestrial space weather has been partly based on incorrect assumptions about how nitrogen, the most abundant gas in our atmosphere, reacts when it collides with electrons produced by energetic ultraviolet sunlight and solar wind. Now scientists have fired electrons of differing energies through a cloud of nitrogen gas to measure the ultraviolet light emitted by this collision.

Northern lights (aurora borealis) in Alaska.
Credit: iStockphoto/Travis Tollefsen

For more than 25 years, our understanding of terrestrial space weather has been partly based on incorrect assumptions about how nitrogen, the most abundant gas in our atmosphere, reacts when it collides with electrons produced by energetic ultraviolet sunlight and solar wind.

Related Articles


New research published June 8, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics describes how scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology have fired electrons of differing energies through a cloud of nitrogen gas to measure the ultraviolet light emitted by this collision.

The researchers have found that well-trusted measurements published in a 1985 journal paper by researchers Ajello and Shemansky contain a significant experimental error, putting decades of space weather findings dependent on this work on unstable ground.

The difference between these contemporary findings and the 1985 researchers' work stems from the 2010 team's improved ability to create and control the collisions and avoid the analytical pitfalls that plagued the 1985 findings.

The new results from the team at JPL suggest that the intensity of a broad band of ultraviolet light emitted from the collision changes significantly less with bombarding electron energies than previously thought.

As the ultraviolet light within the so called 'Lyman-Birge-Hopfield' (LBH) band is used by the likes of NASA and the European Space Agency to better understand the physical and chemical processes occurring in our upper atmosphere and in near-Earth space, the results will give some immediate cause to reflect.

With near-Earth space playing host to our ever-growing satellite communication systems, the new more accurate measurements might unleash a greater understanding of space weather and help us better protect our space-based assets.

The findings will also help further our understanding of phenomena like Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) and similarly the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights), which are caused by collisional processes involving solar wind particles exciting terrestrial oxygen and nitrogen particles at the North and South Pole.

The researchers are hopeful that their findings will also assist the Cassini project understand happenings on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, as LBH emissions have been detected by the orbiting robotic spacecraft.

Author Dr Charles Patrick Malone from JPL said, "Our measurement of LBH energy-dependence differs significantly from widely accepted results published 25 years ago. Aeronomers can now turn the experiment around and apply it to atmospheric studies and determine what kind of collisions produce the observed light."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J a Young, C P Malone, P V Johnson, J M Ajello, X Liu and I Kanik. Lyman-Birge-Hopfield emissions from electron-impact excited N2. Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, 2010; DOI: 10.1088/0953-4075/43/13/135201

Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Artificial aurora created to help predict space weather." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100608092104.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2010, June 9). Artificial aurora created to help predict space weather. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100608092104.htm
Institute of Physics. "Artificial aurora created to help predict space weather." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100608092104.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

You Won't Be Driving Tesla's Mystery Product

You Won't Be Driving Tesla's Mystery Product

Newsy (Mar. 30, 2015) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a new product line will debut April 30, but it&apos;s not a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) — Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Myanmar&apos;s second biggest city of Mandalay and heads for China&apos;s Chongqing, the fifth flight of a landmark journey to circumnavigate the globe powered solely by the sun. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colombian Project Transforms Old Tires Into Green Housing

Colombian Project Transforms Old Tires Into Green Housing

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) — To put a roof over their heads and help the environment, residents near Bogota are building houses out of recycled bottles and old tires. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Future Of Japanese Whaling: Heritage Vs. Conservation

The Future Of Japanese Whaling: Heritage Vs. Conservation

Newsy (Mar. 30, 2015) — In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled Japan could no longer engage in whaling in the Antarctic, but Japan has plans to return this year. Video provided by Newsy
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