IMP-8, Space Physics Group, Physics Department, University of Maryland
Data Center Description
Plasmas fill our solar system and the universe. These ionized gases generate and interact with magnetic and electric fields that are found in most astrophysical settings. Powered ultimately by thermonuclear processes in stars, the plasmas exhibit bulk motion, localized and sometimes explosive heating, and the acceleration of particles such as cosmic rays which have energies up to 10^20 eV. These cosmic rays contain signatures of the birth of stars, while the outwardly expanding solar atmosphere - the solar "wind" - reveals the make-up of solar material. Observing the properties of space plasmas and energetic particles provides a rich source of information about the physical processes which energize the material, and the conditions at the sites where this energization takes place.