Science Results

Science Results

Magnetic reconnection is a Universal phenomenon process in magnetized plasma where magnetic field lines are broken and then reconnected. This explosive process is converting magnetic energy into particle heating and acceleration. Reconnection is believed to occur is all magnetized bodies, from astronomical objects to the Sun and in the magnetosphere.
Published: 29 June 2003
ESA's Integral satellite is detecting gamma-ray bursts at a rate of nearly one per day, establishing itself as a key player in the hunt for these enigmatic explosions.
Published: 23 March 2003
The cross-magnetotail current sheet, which separates the northern lobe of the magnetotail from the southern lobe, is one of the key objects of magnetospheric physics.
Published: 29 January 2003
The prime scientific objective of Cluster is to derive physical quantities, such as the electric current density that can only be obtained by combining measurements from the four spacecraft. A first example where this has been achieved was obtained close to the external boundary of the Earth's magnetic field, in a Flux Transfer Event (FTE).
Published: 28 January 2003
The Cluster quartet of spacecraft allows, for the first time, to unambiguously determine the characteristics of the tail current sheet in the Earth's magnetosphere.
Published: 29 December 2002
ESA's gamma-ray satellite, Integral, is fully operational. Today Integral's first ground-breaking images of the high-energy Universe were presented in Paris, France. Astronomers call such initial observations 'first light'.
Published: 17 December 2002
Integral, the European Space Agency's gamma-ray satellite, has taken its first images and collected its first scientific data. These 'first-light' images confirm that Integral is working superbly. Everyone involved with the project is highly satisfied with its performance so far.
Published: 10 December 2002
A powerful solar eruption occurred on 29 March 2001, which then released a coronal mass ejection toward the Earth. Early on 31 March 2001, since it is taking about 2 days for the CME to reach the Earth, a strong interplanetary shock struck the Earth, initiating one of the largest geomagnetic storms of this solar cycle.
Published: 1 October 2002
Asteroids in our Solar System may be more numerous than previously thought, according to the first systematic search for these objects performed in the infrared, with ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO. The ISO Deep Asteroid Search indicates that there are between 1.1 million and 1.9 million 'space rocks' larger than 1 kilometre in diameter in the so-called 'main asteroid belt', about twice as many as previously believed. However, astronomers think it is premature to revise current assessments of the risk of the Earth being hit by an asteroid.
Published: 5 April 2002
Chase a fast-moving comet, land on it and 'ride' it while it speeds up towards the Sun: not the script of a science-fiction movie, but the very real task of ESA's Rosetta spacecraft. New observations with the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) provide vital information about Comet Wirtanen - Rosetta's target - to help ESA reduce uncertainties in the mission, one of the most difficult ever to be performed.
Published: 25 February 2002
Planet-like bodies with liquid water formed very early in the history of the Solar System, or so scientists used to think. That scenario may now be due for revision after a finding with ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO.
Published: 16 January 2002
After a lonely nine months, Ulysses has a new partner in gamma-ray burst detection. On 21 November, the ESA/NASA spacecraft in orbit high above the Sun's poles, and Mars Odyssey, NASA's spacecraft recently arrived at the Red Planet, detected their first gamma-ray burst together.
Published: 17 December 2001
Anyone living near the Arctic Circle will be familiar with aurorae, the legendary red and green curtains that illuminate the long winter nights. Much less familiar is the mysterious 'black aurora', a strange electrical phenomenon that produces dark, empty regions within the visible Northern and Southern Lights.
Published: 10 December 2001
Mysterious clouds of gas falling towards the Sun have been spotted with the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft. They go against the fast-moving streams of gas that pour out continuously into space, in the solar wind. In today's issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, the scientists who found them suggest that the inflows are due to frequent local adjustments to the Sun's magnetic field. The discovery promises a better understanding of the sources of the solar magnetism that envelops the Earth, quarrels with our own planet's field, and to some extent protects us from cosmic rays coming from the stars.
Published: 19 November 2001
Nature enjoys teasing us. Stars are stars and planets are planets, you may think. In reality it is not as clear-cut as that with the discovery of more and more objects that are neither star nor planet. An Italian team, using observations by ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO, has obtained the first detailed evidence that these ambiguous star-planet 'missing links' form in the same manner as stars, tipping the balance in favour of a stellar origin.
Published: 13 November 2001
The Cluster four spacecraft measurements allow for the measurement of many differential quantities. The gradient of the electron density is one of them. This parameter is key in magnetospheric physics since it is involved in the motion of plasma boundaries and structures.
Published: 31 October 2001
The impressive rho Ophiuchi cloud is one of the heavenly meeting points for astronomers in search of young stars. Located 540 light-years away in the constellation of Ophiucus, in the celestial equator, this dusty region is the nest of more than one hundred newborn stars. But ESA's Infrared Space Observatory, ISO, has also found a surprise hidden in the dust: 30 brown dwarfs, elusive and ambiguous objects considered to be 'failed stars' because they have too little mass to shine as stars. Relatively few of these brown dwarfs have been identified so far, so finding one is like winning a trophy. With this discovery ISO has turned the rho Ophiuchi region into a favourite game reserve for brown-dwarf hunters.
Published: 25 October 2001
People living at high latitudes may have to endure long, icy winters, but Nature has stepped in to offer some compensation in the form of the auroras - the beautiful, shimmering curtains of red and green that illuminate the polar skies. Now the four Cluster spacecraft have begun to shed new light on the processes that make this dazzling display possible.
Published: 23 October 2001
Centuries ago it was commonly believed that comets carried disease in their tails. Nowadays we know the only 'disease' you can get from a comet is a cold - if you stay out too long at night watching it! But these old beliefs were not completely wrong: comet tails do contain an extremely poisonous chemical compound - hydrogen cyanide. Now a team of Dutch and German astronomers using ESA's Infrared Space Observatory and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii have discovered that this poison can help them to understand the birth of massive stars - its presence is a sign that a massive baby star has begun to warm up.
Published: 10 October 2001
Like ships on a never-ending expedition around the world, ESA's four Cluster spacecraft continue to explore the mysterious magnetic environment that surrounds the Earth - a stormy sea filled with electrified particles instead of water. As the quartet surveys the planet's poles, they are discovering the secrets of the northern cusp - a funnel-shaped opening in the magnetic field.
Published: 9 October 2001
28-Nov-2022 10:43 UT

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