About some 7,200 miles above Earth, scientists have found an unseen shield covering our planet is helping to shield us from harmful, super-fast “killer” electrons. This Star Trek style shield halts these dashing electrons in their ways, stopping them from hurting astronauts and burning our satellites. As defined in the journal Nature, this unseen shield is situated inside the Van Allen radiation belts. These sheilds are two doughnut-shaped rings around our earth that spread up to 40,000 kilometers above our planet. The internal zone is filled with high-energy protons, while the external zone is conquered by high-energy electrons. The defensive shield was revealed after researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder examined nearly two years of data assembled by the twin NASA spacecraft, the Van Allen Probes, which circle the rings to detect the activities of high-energy electrons in this region.
The data exposed a piercing boundary at the very internal verge of the outer belt that seemed to be refracting arriving highly charged electrons, called ultrarelativistic electrons. These particles rush around Earth at near light-speed, travelling at roughly 160,000 kilometers per second. It was supposed that these electrons would create a flat transition, steadily drifting into the upper atmosphere before being damaged by collisions with air molecules. Though, much to their shock, a shrill cutoff was detected instead.
Chief author Professor Daniel Baker in a news-release said “It’s almost like these electrons are running into a glass wall in space. Somewhat like the shields created by force fields on Star Trek that were used to repel alien weapons, we are seeing an invisible shield blocking these electrons. It’s an extremely puzzling phenomenon.” To attempt to detect this mysterious force field, the scientists studied numerous different situations that could produce and sustain a shield of this kind. They supposed that the Earth’s magnetic field lines might be someway trapping the electrons in place, or that radio signals from our devices on Earth could be one way or another scattering the electrons. But with what they were observing, neither of these justifications made any sense. As an alternative, they propose that a cloud of cold, electrically charged gas acknowledged as the plasmasphere could be playing a role. This huge cloud starts just
600 miles above Earth but
expanses thousands of miles into the external, high-energy electron conquered region
of the Van Allen belt. They suggest that low frequency electromagnetic waves inside
the cloud which create an occurrence known as “plasmaspheric hiss” could be
scattering the electrons at the border.
Nevertheless, the group doesn’t think that the study or this mystery ends there, and believes to find more parts to the puzzle in the future. Baker said “I think the key here is to keep observing the region in exquisite detail, which we can do because of the powerful instruments on the Van Allen probes.”