The main source of cosmic rays come from the Sun, which projects into space a large number of charged particles.
But the stars, black holes and galaxies also emit cosmic rays. In summary, all the radiation coming from space are cosmic rays. Cosmic rays entering the earth's surface, have low energy because the Earth's atmosphere protects us from most cosmic ray intensity.
However, the high-energy particles entering the upper atmosphere have an impact on all living organisms. They can cause mutations in DNA is one of the reasons listed on the mutation of species by causing slight changes in DNA.
The DNA, genetic information and heredity, produces occasional errors, most mistakes are bad.
But sometimes these mutations produce beneficial effects, which allow living organisms to continue their evolution. This leads by chance, to variations in plant and animal species. Thus, our genes are changing from one generation to another, so we can adapt to any changes in the environment. Cosmic rays also cause harmful mutations such as cancer.
The passenger aircraft are more vulnerable, some crew members are wearing small radiation counters that are being monitored even if the effect has not yet been demonstrated.
However, if thousands of cosmic rays pass through our bodies constantly, they are so tiny that the probability that they can touch the core of our DNA and make the cancer cell is very low.
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Image: image from the documentary "Cosmic Phenomena" 2008 A & E Television Networks
The sprites are electrical discharges that rise up to 100 km altitude, in powerful lightning in the mesosphere, i.e. the upper atmosphere.
The elves appear in groups of 2 or 3 wire harnesses that go from the top and bottom and are surrounded by a halo of orange-red, produced by molecules of atmospheric nitrogen. Their short duration of few milliseconds to a few hundred milliseconds and altitude make them difficult to observe, which explains why they have been discovered July 6, 1989. When these lights appear above a thundercloud, cumulonimbus cloud or, as the atmosphere responds when a fluorescent tube. This light comes from nitrogen and varies between red-orange on top and greenish-blue at the base. The training is related to leprechauns avalanches of electrons with energy exceeding 1 MeV, triggered through the stratosphere and mesosphere by cosmic rays. The first observations of sprites from space with micro cameras, have been made since the International Space Station during the experiment LSO (Lightning and Sprite Observations), during the Delta mission.
Sprite or Transient Luminous Event ( TLE), are flashes of light visible in the upper atmosphere that accompany thunderstorms.
Although they are imagined in the 1920s by the Scottish physicist Wilson, the first TLE is found July 6, 1989, by chance.
These are researchers at the University of Minnesota who have observed, only 2 pictures on a film to launch a rocket. Since then, thousands of TLE have been recorded by several optical recording systems.
nota: The name sprite, refers to Ariel, a spirit of playful Air The Tempest, Shakespeare.
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Image: The sprites have a funnel shape of 1 to 50 km wide, surmounted by arches, and form between 80 km and 145 km altitude, to descend to an altitude of 40 km. credit: image from the documentary "Cosmic Event" 2008 A & E Television Networks