Van Allen Probes spacecraft catch a solar shockwave in the act


Earth’s magnetosphere is depicted with the high-energy particles of the Van Allen radiation belts (shown in red) and various processes responsible for accelerating these particles to relativistic energies indicated. The effects of an interplanetary shock penetrate deep into this system, energizing electrons to ultra-relativistic energies in a matter of seconds. Courtesy of NASA

Scientists at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, the University of Colorado, and elsewhere have analyzed data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes, and observed a sudden and dramatic effect in the aftermath of a solar shockwave: The resulting magnetosonic pulse, lasting just 60 seconds, reverberated through the Earth’s radiation belts, accelerating certain particles to ultrahigh energies.

The complete story, courtesy of MIT News is found here: