Explaining the Mystery of the Voyager

Feb 27, 2009

With a new 3D-model for energy simulation scientists from Bochum, Germany, and Huntsville, USA, are studying the 'physical mystery' of the Voyager. Over 30 years ago the spacecraft detected particles in solar wind which were 'hotter' than they should have been according to the existing theory expounded by the mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov in 1941.

The Bochum plasma physicists Prof. Padma Kant Shukla and Dr. Dastgeer Shaikh from the University of Alabama are thereby the first to verify by means of computer simulation that the non-linear characteristics of turbulences in the plasma carried by the solar wind differs from the familiar model for dynamic fluids. The scientists have published their results in Physical Review Letters.

Recognized for over 60 years: The 5/3 law.

According to Kolmogorov's theory there is a relationship between the size of eddies and the amount of energy released or dissipated by hot solar particles. The smaller an eddy gets the more it interacts with its surroundings, so the greater the energy loss. For example this can be observed in the turbulent wake caused by a bridge piling in a flowing river. The energy of the tumbling wake dissipates only at the edges, where the smallest eddies interact with the smooth flowing water. The Kolmogorov law set the exponents for the relationship between eddy size and energy at 5/3: In a dynamic fluid, the amount of energy released should increase by a factor of x5/3 when the size of the eddy is reduced by a factor of x.

7/3 law: Efficiency increases by 40 percent

Observations made by the Voyager, other spacecraft and satellites show that the energy flow in plasma tends to follow a 7/3 law rather than the so-called 5/3 law proposed by Kolmogorov. The dynamic spectrum of the wave lengths in plasma is therefore significantly greater than in other hydrodynamic systems. The efficiency of energy transfer between hot particles carried in the solar wind and cooler particles increases by 40 percent. The computer model developed by Shukla and Shaikh explains the sudden increase by the interaction between magnetic fields and the outward flowing currents of hot atoms, ions and electrons. The magnetic field is responsible for energy cascades. Influenced and 'constrained' by magnetic fields, the small eddies serve to "damp" the energy in them.

Explanation for gigantic quantities of cosmic energy

"This is the same kind of thing that happens in a microwave oven," Shaikh said. "If there is nothing there, the microwaves go out without releasing their energy. But the microwaves are absorbed by the food, causing them to release the energy and heat the food." "This development of the two scientists helps us to understand how the particles in the solar wind contain enormous quantities of energy. Prof. Shukla continued "It might also explain where the fastest and most powerful cosmic rays get their boost." Scientists have struggled for decades to find plausible natural processes that could explain how some cosmic rays (atoms stripped of their electrons) are accelerated to almost the speed of light.

More informaiton: 3D simulations of fluctuation spectra in the Hall-MHD plasma, Dastgeer Shaikh and P K Shukla, Physical Review Letters 102, 045004 (2009): DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.045004

Source: Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum, Germany

Explore further: Information storage for the next generation of plastic computers

Related Stories

Fierce 2012 magnetic storm barely missed Earth

Mar 18, 2014

Earth dodged a huge magnetic bullet from the sun on July 23, 2012.

Scientists identify a plasma plume that naturally protects the Earth against solar storms

Mar 06, 2014

The Earth's magnetic field, or magnetosphere, stretches from the planet's core out into space, where it meets the solar wind, a stream of charged particles emitted by the sun. For the most part, the magnetosphere ...

How magnetic crustal fields affect planets

Feb 26, 2014

If you are ever lost on the surface of Mars, don't count on a compass to help you get home. On Mars, compasses don't work.

MAVEN satellite looks for Mars' missing atmosphere

Feb 12, 2014

Ninety kilometers over our heads, the sky is glowing. During the day, the Sun turns the top of our sky into a sea of electrons. They flow over one another without friction, creating plasma. Radio waves that ...

Hubble and Cassini get a 360-degree view of Saturn's auroras (w/ video)

Feb 11, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA trained several pairs of eyes on Saturn as the planet put on a dancing light show at its poles. While NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting around Earth, was able to observe the northern ...

Could we harvest energy from a star?

Feb 04, 2014

Our civilization will need more power in the future. Count on it. The ways we use power today: for lighting, transportation, food distribution and even entertainment would have sounded hilarious and far fetched ...

Recommended for you

Information storage for the next generation of plastic computers

2 hours ago

Inexpensive computers, cell phones and other systems that substitute flexible plastic for silicon chips may be one step closer to reality, thanks to research published on April 16 in the journal Nature Communications.

With neutrons, scientists can now look for dark energy in the lab

5 hours ago

It does not always take a huge accelerator to do particle physics: First results from a low energy, table top alterative takes validity of Newtonian gravity down by five orders of magnitude and narrows the ...

At the origin of cell division: The features of living matter emerge from inanimate matter

8 hours ago

Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane: these are the models of a "simplified" cell used by the SISSA physicists Luca Giomi and Antonio DeSimone, who simulated the spontaneous emergence ...

Physicists develop new method for manipulating minuscule drops

9 hours ago

Researchers from the University of Twente MESA+ research institute, the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) and the Eindhoven University of Technology have, in cooperation with industrial partners ASML and ...

How to test the twin paradox without using a spaceship

11 hours ago

Forget about anti-ageing creams and hair treatments. If you want to stay young, get a fast spaceship. That is what Einstein's Theory of Relativity predicted a century ago, and it is commonly known as "twin ...

Sensitive detection method may help impede illicit nuclear trafficking

Apr 15, 2014

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the greatest danger to nuclear security comes from terrorists acquiring sufficient quantities of plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU) to construct ...

bearly
1.3 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2009
Learn to use it and space travel is a step closer. Once in space we have unlimited fuel for near light speed travel.
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2009
They have a model. Now they need to prove it by making testable predictions from that model.

More news stories

Scientists capture ultrafast snapshots of light-driven superconductivity

A new study pins down a major factor behind the appearance of superconductivity—the ability to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency—in a promising copper-oxide material.

Micro-macro entangled 'cat states' could one day test quantum gravity

(Phys.org) —In Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, a cat's quantum state becomes entangled with the quantum state of a decaying nucleus, resulting in the odd situation that the cat is both alive and ...

Information storage for the next generation of plastic computers

Inexpensive computers, cell phones and other systems that substitute flexible plastic for silicon chips may be one step closer to reality, thanks to research published on April 16 in the journal Nature Communications.

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...

With neutrons, scientists can now look for dark energy in the lab

It does not always take a huge accelerator to do particle physics: First results from a low energy, table top alterative takes validity of Newtonian gravity down by five orders of magnitude and narrows the ...

Chemical vapor deposition used to grow atomic layer materials on top of each other

Researchers at Penn State's Center for Two-Dimensional and Layered Materials and the University of Texas at Dallas have shown the ability to grow high quality, single-layer materials one on top of the other ...

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.

Declining catch rates in Caribbean green turtle fishery may be result of overfishing

A 20-year assessment of Nicaragua's legal, artisanal green sea turtle fishery has uncovered a stark reality: greatly reduced overall catch rates of turtles in what may have become an unsustainable take, according ...

Computer software accurately predicts student test performance

Emotient, the leading provider of facial expression recognition data and analysis, and the University of California, San Diego announced publication of a joint study by two Emotient co-founders affiliated ...