Relativistic Electron Belt Found Around the Earth
Although the region of space looks clear there’s a lot going on over there. In recent studies of radiation trapped by the magnetic fields, something peculiar has been found. These are electrons zipping along near to the speed of light which are found during some solar storms only and not others.
A team lead by Hayley Allison of the German center for Geosciences has just figured out why this happens. This can happen only if the plasma is being significantly depleted inside a radiation belt just before the occurrence of a solar storm, then only electrons can achieve relativistic speeds. To know the reason why only some solar storm results into relativistic electron shower, the plasma was examined by studying the fluctuations in the electric and magnetic fields that are known to have an accelerating effect on electrons.
Although the plasma density is hard to measure directly, yet the researchers used fluctuations in the electric and magnetic field and it was found that the relativistic electron corresponds to extreme depletion of the plasma density in the presence of chorus waves.