In 2015, NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale missions conducted to study the interaction between incoming free-electrons from cosmic ray and Earth magnetosphere. However, MMS report revealed when incoming free electrons dive in Earth's magnetosphere they exhibit a strange complex dance around the planet.
All the information about NASA's latest study are published in Journal of Geophysical Research to explain the strange motion of these electrons. According to electromagnetism, electron typically exhibits tight spiral motion when they influenced in a strong magnetic field. While in the weaker field, electron moves freely like bouncing and wagging back and forth that known as Speiser motion.
Basically, the new study is focused on the behavior of an electron in the intermediate state of magnetic field strength. However, this motion takes away some of the field's energy which is crucial for magnetic reconnection. By the way, magnetic reconnection is a dynamic process which releases large amounts of stored magnetic energy.
Regarding this, the specific region of interest is known as intermediate guide fields. This particular region has the magnetic field with moderate strength and the direction of electric field is always same with the magnetic field. During the flight through this region, the onboard instruments recorded the interaction of electrons with the current sheet. The current sheet is the thin layer through which the current travels from one point to another.
According to NASA's MMS spacecraft, when an incoming particle passes through this region it started gyrating in spirals along guide field. However, it looks similar nature of an electron in a strong magnetic field, but here the rotation has larger spirals. Additionally, MMS also detected the signatures of the particles gaining energy from the electric field. When the accelerated particles escaped the current sheet, they took away some of the field's energy and causing it to gradually weaken.
However, the new study will help to better understand the role of electrons in reconnection and how magnetic fields lose energy. That's why scientists are looking for the narrow current sheet which will help them to predict the time for fast reconnection. Because Understanding the speed of reconnection is essential for predicting the intensity of the explosive energy release.
Reconnection is an important universal energy releasing process which also responsible for some shock waves and cosmic rays. Because when the high-energy electrons penetrate into the magnetosphere close enough to Earth, they can damage satellites in orbit. Therefore these discoveries will help to understand Earth's dynamic space environment and how it affects our satellites and technology.