Shock waves and space "mysterium"

You know, it happens that the results of research carried out in terrestrial conditions open up the possibility of a deeper penetration into the laws of space processes. This is exactly what happened when studying shock waves in space and the so-called cosmic "mysterium".

In 1958, R. Sagdeev developed the theory of the propagation of shock waves in a rarefied plasma

In 1958, R. Sagdeev developed the theory of the propagation of shock waves in a rarefied plasma. It would seem that in a rarefied plasma, where the mean free path of the particles is large, and their pairwise collisions with each other are very rare and practically do not play almost any role, a shock wave cannot occur at all.

However, it follows from the calculations that shock waves can still propagate in a rarefied plasma. This is because the plasma consists of electrically charged particles that have their own electric and magnetic fields and are sensitive to even very weak electrical and magnetic effects. Due to this, a rarefied plasma has a peculiar electromagnetic "elasticity". And a shock wave arises in it not due to the transfer of collisions from one particle to another, but due to the propagation of electromagnetic influences.

The phenomena predicted by this theory were also discovered in space. Missile studies have shown that in interplanetary space, which is just filled with rarefied plasma, under certain circumstances, shock waves do occur. This occurs during flares on the Sun, accompanied by powerful bursts of magnetic field. The theory was confirmed not only qualitatively, but also quantitatively. The observed front width of the cosmic shock wave and the rate of increase of magnetic disturbances near the Earth were in good agreement with the calculated ones.

It is unlikely that there is now a person who would not hear about lasers and masers - devices that can "process" external energy into energy of extremely powerful electromagnetic radiation with a strictly defined wavelength. Along with the first crystal lasers, a number of types of gas lasers and masers have now been created.

At first glance, lasers and masers - artificial devices created in terrestrial laboratories, can have nothing to do with space processes. However, gas masers have recently been discovered in space. And they were created not by mysterious intelligent inhabitants of other worlds, but by nature itself.

In cosmic nebulae and in interstellar space there is a noticeable number of OH hydroxyl molecules, i.e., molecules consisting of two atoms: an oxygen atom and a hydrogen atom. Such molecules should emit radio waves of a very definite length - about 18 cm. However, when radio astronomers began to study this radiation with the help of radio telescopes, then they found very strange lines with unexpected properties in the place of OH radio lines. These properties were so unusual and incomprehensible that unknown cosmic objects serving as sources of mysterious radiation were even proposed to be called the cosmic "mystery".

However, further observations showed that there is nothing mysterious in the strange radiation. It is generated by the same OH molecules, but only these molecules are in an excited state. The source of this excitation is the light of neighboring stars. And the nature of the physical processes that occur during this is the same as in gas masers.

Further study of the "mysterium" phenomenon led astronomers to the conclusion that the sources of unusual radio emission from OH lines are relatively small compact gas formations, which significantly exceed the density of interstellar gas in density.

However, the properties of these natural cosmic masers are still largely mysterious. The data available to scientists indicate that the sources of the Mysterium are not ordinary condensations of the interstellar medium, but some special formations.

The final disclosure of the mystery of the Mysterium is a matter of the future. But the fact that laboratory studies of physicists in the field of the development of lasers and masers made it possible to understand the physical nature of a complex cosmic process and establish that natural gas masers exist in outer space is of great interest.