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Scientists Unravel Solar System’s Puzzling Spin: A Force Beyond Physics at Play

Breakthrough Research Reveals the Mysterious Mechanism Governing Inner Solar System’s Rotation

In a significant scientific breakthrough, researchers believe they have finally cracked the enigma of why the inner solar system defies the laws of physics by spinning at a much slower rate than theory suggests. This baffling phenomenon, which has puzzled astronomers for decades, has now been unveiled as a complex interplay between charged particles and magnetic forces.

At the heart of this mystery lies the inner ring of the solar system, a region teeming with thin layers of gas and dust known as accretion disks. These disks gracefully spiral around young stars, gradually moving inward over time. According to the laws of angular momentum, this spiraling motion should cause the inner part of the disk to spin faster, much like a figure skater twirling faster when drawing their arms in.

However, observations have consistently revealed that the inner portion of these accretion disks, although spinning faster than the outer part, does not rotate as swiftly as anticipated. Researchers had proposed several explanations, including friction between the inner and outer components of the disk or the presence of magnetic fields generating a “magnetorotational instability.” Yet, these theories fell short of providing a satisfactory answer.

Enter Paul Bellan, a professor of applied physics at Caltech, who embarked on a quest to unveil the underlying mechanism driving this intriguing phenomenon. Bellan’s research took a novel approach by analyzing the trajectories of individual atoms, electrons, and ions within the gas making up the accretion disk.

Using a complex simulation involving approximately 40,000 neutral particles and about 1,000 charged particles subject to gravity and magnetism, Bellan discovered a crucial detail. The simulation revealed that collisions between neutral atoms and charged particles led to positively charged ions spiraling inward while negatively charged electrons spiraled outward. This behavior disrupted the conservation of angular momentum but introduced a new force called “canonical angular momentum.”

Canonical angular momentum encompasses the original angular momentum along with an added quantity reliant on the charge of a particle and the surrounding magnetic field. For neutral particles, these forces are indistinguishable, but charged particles are profoundly impacted by the magnetic field.

The disparity in charge causes both positive and negative particles to accumulate canonical angular momentum, resulting in neutral particles losing angular momentum and shifting inward. Although seemingly small in scale, this minute distinction has a profound impact on the solar system’s rotation. Remarkably, only one in a billion particles needs to be charged to account for the observed loss of angular momentum in neutral particles.

This discovery transforms the accretion disk into a colossal battery, with a positive terminal near the center and a negative terminal at the edge. This generates a substantial electric flow, energizing astrophysical jets that extend in both directions, a phenomenon long observed by astronomers without knowledge of its origin.

The groundbreaking research, titled “Neutral-charged-particle Collisions as the Mechanism for Accretion Disk Angular Momentum Transport,” has been published in the prestigious Astrophysical Journal. This newfound understanding of the inner solar system’s peculiar rotation sheds light on the intricate interplay between charged particles, magnetic forces, and the forces governing our celestial neighborhood.