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Title: Electromagnetic Forces on a Relativistic Spacecraft in the Interstellar Medium

Abstract

A relativistic spacecraft of the type envisioned by the Breakthrough Starshot initiative will inevitably become charged through collisions with interstellar particles and UV photons. Interstellar magnetic fields would therefore deflect the trajectory of the spacecraft. We calculate the expected deflection for typical interstellar conditions. We also find that the charge distribution of the spacecraft is asymmetric, producing an electric dipole moment. The interaction between the moving electric dipole and the interstellar magnetic field is found to produce a large torque, which can result in fast oscillation of the spacecraft around the axis perpendicular to the direction of motion, with a period of ∼0.5 hr. We then study the spacecraft rotation arising from impulsive torques by dust bombardment. Finally, we discuss the effect of the spacecraft rotation and suggest several methods to mitigate it.

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Daejeon 34055 (Korea, Republic of)
  2. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22679778
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 848; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ASYMMETRY; CHARGE DISTRIBUTION; COLLISIONS; COSMIC DUST; ELECTRIC DIPOLE MOMENTS; ELECTRIC DIPOLES; INTERACTIONS; INTERSTELLAR MAGNETIC FIELDS; OSCILLATIONS; PHOTONS; RELATIVISTIC RANGE; ROTATION; SPACE; SPACE VEHICLES; TORQUE; TRAJECTORIES

Citation Formats

Hoang, Thiem, and Loeb, Abraham, E-mail: thiemhoang@kasi.re.kr, E-mail: aloeb@cfa.harvard.edu. Electromagnetic Forces on a Relativistic Spacecraft in the Interstellar Medium. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA8C73.
Hoang, Thiem, & Loeb, Abraham, E-mail: thiemhoang@kasi.re.kr, E-mail: aloeb@cfa.harvard.edu. Electromagnetic Forces on a Relativistic Spacecraft in the Interstellar Medium. United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA8C73.
Hoang, Thiem, and Loeb, Abraham, E-mail: thiemhoang@kasi.re.kr, E-mail: aloeb@cfa.harvard.edu. Tue . "Electromagnetic Forces on a Relativistic Spacecraft in the Interstellar Medium". United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA8C73.
@article{osti_22679778,
title = {Electromagnetic Forces on a Relativistic Spacecraft in the Interstellar Medium},
author = {Hoang, Thiem and Loeb, Abraham, E-mail: thiemhoang@kasi.re.kr, E-mail: aloeb@cfa.harvard.edu},
abstractNote = {A relativistic spacecraft of the type envisioned by the Breakthrough Starshot initiative will inevitably become charged through collisions with interstellar particles and UV photons. Interstellar magnetic fields would therefore deflect the trajectory of the spacecraft. We calculate the expected deflection for typical interstellar conditions. We also find that the charge distribution of the spacecraft is asymmetric, producing an electric dipole moment. The interaction between the moving electric dipole and the interstellar magnetic field is found to produce a large torque, which can result in fast oscillation of the spacecraft around the axis perpendicular to the direction of motion, with a period of ∼0.5 hr. We then study the spacecraft rotation arising from impulsive torques by dust bombardment. Finally, we discuss the effect of the spacecraft rotation and suggest several methods to mitigate it.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-4357/AA8C73},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 1,
volume = 848,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Oct 10 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Tue Oct 10 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}