A team of scientists, led by Dr. Justin Kasper of the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, have used data collected by NASA’s oldest active spacecraft, the Wind Solar Probe, to make a discovery that could revolutionise the nuclear power industry.
The data, collected over a period of 19 years, has been thoroughly analysed by the team, enabling them to identify the energy source that causes odd behaviours in solar winds.
Normal wind on earth consists of a mass of gas which gradually slows down and decrease in temperature as it travels and loses energy. Solar winds, work in a manner that seems to defy physical laws; their speed and temperature increases as they travel away from the source of their creation.
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The explanation for this phenomenon has been discovered to be ion cyclotron waves; heavy ions in the winds mass interact with the ion cyclotron waves increasing the energy, which leads to an increased speed and temperature). The team hopes that further investigation could lead to groundbreaking advances in nuclear fusion power.
One of the main problems with nuclear fusion is that heavy ions collide with the plasma in which the fusion reaction takes place and steals energy from the plasma, slowly cooling it, and eventually stopping the reaction. The use of ion cyclotron waves could add energy to the plasma, and reverse the process, enabling a sustainable fusion energy reaction.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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