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14 Sep

Where do high-energy particles that endanger satellites, astronauts and airplanes come from?

For decades, scientists have been trying to solve a vexing problem about the weather in outer space: At unpredictable times, high-energy particles bombard the earth and objects outside the earth's atmosphere with radiation that can endanger the lives of astronauts and destroy satellites' electronic equipment. These flare-ups can even trigger showers of radiation strong enough to reach passengers in airplanes flying over the North Pole. Despite scientists' best efforts, a clear pattern of how and when flare-ups will occur has remained enduringly difficult to identify. This week, in a paper in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, authors Luca Comisso and Lorenzo Sironi of Columbia's Department of Astronomy and the Astrophysics Laboratory, have for the first time used supercomputers to simulate when and how...
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