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Polar Scientists Explain 20 Year Mystery Behind Magnetospheric Radio Waves
In all planetary magnetospheres, hot plasmas tend to be accompanied by radio waves.
Every time we see hot plasma we see broadband electrostatic noise.
Theories of every sort were proposed to explain the source of the radio waves, but none of the theories completely fit the observations.
Pioneering radio receivers with multiple antennas and high-speed digital electronics enabled Polar scientists to break through the barrier in understanding the origin of this broadband electrostatic noise.
The radio "noise" could be resolved as bubbles (particle depletions) and observed to flow from one spacecraft antenna to the next.
Each bubble represents plasma that has lost some of its electrons. Normally nature would immediately replenish the electrons, but the bubbles move so fast that nature does not have time to react.
Like the discovery that living matter is composed of cells, we now know that hot plasmas have a universal feature heretofore unknown.
By understanding that electrical bubbles, not radio waves, are universally present in hot plasmas, conflicting ideas about plasma transport and acceleration processes can be resolved.
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Official NASA Contact: Barbara Giles
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