Wyly Wade

Particle Accelerator in Earth’s Radiation Belts

Simulated Van Allen Belts generated by a plasm...

NASA’s Van Allen Probes have made a surprising and unusual discovery. They’ve found a particle accelerator in the heart of Earth’s radiation belts, speeding up tiny particles to more than 99 percent the speed of light. “Until the 1990s, we thought that the Van Allen belts were pretty well-behaved and changed slowly,” said Geoff Reeves. “With more and more measurements, however, we realized how quickly and unpredictably the radiation belts changed. They are basically never in equilibrium, but in a constant state of change.”


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