Helium plasma

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Main Question or Discussion Point

Most extraterrestrial helium is found in a plasma state, with properties quite different from those of atomic helium. In a plasma, helium's electrons are not bound to its nucleus, resulting in very high electrical conductivity, even when the gas is only partially ionized. The charged particles are highly influenced by magnetic and electric fields. For example, in the solar wind together with ionized hydrogen, the particles interact with the Earth's magnetosphere giving rise to Birkeland currents and the aurora.[41]

Given the above quote reference Helium within our Heliosphere, I have a grouping of questions for the electromagnetic wise.

If Earth and Jupiter were both placed within a dense Helium plasma region/field of our Heliosphere at the same time; and considering He plasma's high electrical conductivity; could one expect the two planets to interact with one another, electromagnetically? Why or why not?

Thanks for any replies.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Simon Bridge
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Welcome to PF.
You are asking if the Earth and Jupiter would interact electromagnetically if they were joined by a strong conductor? I'd have thought that question answers itself. Mind you, such a plasma would exert a considerable drag on the planets... the question is very highly speculative so what is this in aid of?

I'm wondering why you seem to think the Earth and Jupiter don't interact electromagnetically now?

We have to be careful though - there are a lot of crackpot ideas online surrounding the "electric universe" concepts.
 
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Thanks for your reply Simon. I know my question seems to answer itself, but with regards to electromagnetics of larger fields and objects, I am trying to oversimplify the obvious because of the scientific efforts in understanding space weather theory and electromagnetic predictions. So you have confirmed that my limited understanding of two electromagnetic objects within a highly conductive substance/field is on the right path. Now to help you understand why I ask.

I have recently learned of a Helium zone existing within our Heliosphere that is in degrees of greater density then the rest of the Heliosphere. Under constant conditions, electromagnetics are easier calculations and predictable. As the solar wind has changed/declined over the past 4ish years, allowing a change in the two electromagnetic objects (Earth and Jupiter), calculations for electromagnetic relations between the two have changed. Both objects will soon share this Helium-rich zone, as they do every 11ish years of Jupiter's cycle around the Sun.

Look at these reports linked below:

http://www.springerlink.com/content/f616976443102r5r/fulltext.pdf?MUD=MP

http://www-ssg.sr.unh.edu/index.html?tof/Papers/PickupHe/

What do you make of these reports and the way Earth and Jupiter will interact electromagnetically within this zone, considering their magnetospheres are larger and shaped differently than past observations within this Helium dense zone?

Thanks.
 
  • #4
Simon Bridge
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When they talk about "high density He" - what is the density in question?
 
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Good question Simon. The density flucuates according to 1) He availability around the outside of the Heliosphere (flucuates); 2) The strength of the solar wind (fluctuates); 3) Speed of the Heliosphere's travel through space (flucuates). We don't have historical density data for this zone, so comparisons of current density to past densities is impossible.

One certainty is that this He dense zone is not the same density as it was in late 2000 and 2001, the last time Earth and Jupiter traveled thru it simultaneously.

Because He behaves differently, as we know it on Earth (within a scientific laboratory) and as it exists in space (a giant laboratory), it's potential behavior becomes 'theoretical'. If not theoretical, then observationally limited.

The best approach is to calculate He's electromagentic potential (kinda like figuring the fission potential of uranium in 1939), based off the most logical high-density and low-density points. This will attempt to cover He's overall upper and lower potential. Then we would have to know the output of Earth and Jupiter; plug them into the equation and see. The only known is the distance between Earth and Jupiter and the Sun. So there is really no way to determine the potential because Earth and Jupiter's electromagnetic potential flucuates, according to the Sun's output. I see this overall calculation to be impossible because of so many flucuations. Its the great dilemma of magnetics in motion. Darn things want be still and remain constant.

Another realm of Helium influence is how Earth's upper atmosphere will enteract with this zone, this year, electromagnetically. Could He increase the energy (temp/magnetics) traveling through the newly discovered magnetic portals/electron diffusion zones. Could these magnetic portals exist between Earth and Jupiter? Do they? I have no clue, but common-sense electromagnetic behaviors apply.

Good luck with calculations. I'm more lazy and prefer observation. Thanks again for your interest, Simon.

PS
My 13 year old son has a very interesting electromagnetic theory, based solely off it's basics. Time will soon tell.
 
  • #6
Simon Bridge
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Good question Simon.
... and one that you have not answered. The answer should be a number or a range of numbers - what is the density that is being considered "high"?
Could He increase the energy (temp/magnetics) traveling through the newly discovered magnetic portals/electron diffusion zones. Could these magnetic portals exist between Earth and Jupiter? Do they? I have no clue, but common-sense electromagnetic behaviors apply.
I think you are reading too much into some popular-science articles.
Good luck with calculations. I'm more lazy and prefer observation.
OK - what is the observed helium density then? Ballpark figure? Order of magnitude?

Go look it up.
An example of the kinds of measurements would be:
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1976Ap&SS..39..321B
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1973A&A....27..399P
... this is a much studied field with measurements improving all the time.
 
  • #7
ZapperZ
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Locked, pending moderation.

Zz.
 

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