Plasma Waves Are Cooking Electrons in Earth’s Magnetic Shield

A colorful illustration shows the spacecraft of the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission passing through the plasma of space. (Image: © NASA)
Space is warm — or, at least, warmer than it should be. All across the universe, including in our own solar system, astronomers have found that the nearly empty places between the stars and galaxies and other matter contain more heat than existing knowledge can fully explain.

By Rafi Letzter |

So what’s cooking the void?

A new study conducted in space might offer an answer: plasma waves banging into electrons. [The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]

Those nearly empty places in our solar system do have some stuff in them. There’s solar wind, which consists of thin streams of charged particles, like electrons, moving at superhigh velocities away from the sun. And there’s loose plasma, a form of matter that’s widely distributed throughout the universe and that often exists in a chaotic, „turbulent“ state.

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