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Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron Waves

Focus: GS III: Science and Technology

Why in News?

Scientists have identified Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron (EMIC) waves, a form of plasma waves in the Indian Antarctic station, Maitri.

Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron Waves:

  • These waves play a crucial role in the precipitation of killer electrons, which are harmful to space-borne technology.
  • They can help understand the impact of energetic particles in the radiation belts on low orbiting satellites.
  • EMIC waves are discreet electromagnetic emissions observed in Earth’s magnetosphere.
  • They are generated in equatorial latitudes and propagate along magnetic field lines to the high latitude ionosphere.
  • Their signatures can be recorded in both space and ground-based magnetometers.
Magnetosphere:
  • The magnetosphere is the cavity in which Earth lies and is protected from the Sun’s harmful effects.
  • It is formed by the interaction between Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind, a stream of charged particles flowing from the Sun.
  • Earth’s magnetic field is generated by the motion of molten iron in its outer core.
Magnetometer:
  • A magnetometer is a scientific instrument used to measure the strength and direction of magnetic fields.
  • It can be used to study the magnetic fields of celestial bodies such as planets, moons, stars, and galaxies.
  • Magnetometers work based on the principles of electromagnetic induction or magnetoresistance.

Plasma Waves:

  • Plasma waves are a type of electromagnetic wave that propagates through plasma, which is a state of matter.
  • Plasma is formed when a gas is heated to high temperatures or subjected to strong electric fields, causing its atoms to become ionised.
  • More than 99% of the visible universe consists of plasma.
  • Plasma waves have significant applications in astrophysics, space science, plasma physics, and communication technology.
  • They are involved in the generation of auroras and provide us with information on regions inaccessible to us, transport mass and energy across different regions, and control the overall dynamics of Earth’s magnetosphere.

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