Van Allen Radiation Belts

Van Allen Radiation Belts - Van Allen Radiation Belts A...

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Van Allen Radiation Belts A fundamental property of magnetic fields is that they exert forces on moving electrical charges. Thus, a magnetic field can trap charged particles such as electrons and protons as they are forced to execute a spiraling motion back and forth along the field lines. As illustrated in the adjacent figure, the charged particles are reflected at "mirror points" where the field lines come close together and the spirals tighten. One of the first fruits of early space exploration was the discovery in the late 1950s that the Earth is surrounded by two regions of particularly high concentration of charged particles called the Van Allen radiation belts . The inner and outer Van Allen belts are illustrated in the top figure. The primary source of these charged particles is the stream of particles emanating from the Sun that we call the solar wind . As we shall see in a subsequent section, the charged particles trapped in the Earth's magnetic field are responsible for the
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This note was uploaded on 12/04/2011 for the course ANT ANT2000 taught by Professor Monicaoyola during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Van Allen Radiation Belts - Van Allen Radiation Belts A...

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