Three Ways to Travel at (Almost) Light Speed

According to NASA, In Future it will possible to travel nearly the speed of light with the help of Enistein’s Equation. NASA said that it will be possible in three ways.
Albert Einstein

On May 29, 1919, observations of a solar eclipse provided evidence for Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Even before that, Einstein founded the theory of special relativity, which transformed our understanding of light. It also offers guidance on understanding how particles travel across space, which is a crucial field of research in order to keep spacecraft and astronauts protected from radiation.

According to special relativity theory, photons fly through a vacuum at a constant speed of 670,616,629 miles per hour — a speed that is extremely difficult to attain and impossible to exceed in that setting. Particles are being accelerated to unprecedented speeds all over space, from black holes to our near-Earth setting, with some exceeding 99.9 percent the speed of light.

One of NASA’s responsibilities is to learn more about how these particles are accelerated. The study of these superfast, or relativistic, particles can one day help to protect missions exploring the solar system and travelling to the Moon, as well as teach us more about our galaxy: A well-aimed near-light-speed particle can cause onboard electronics to fail, and too many at once may have harmful radiation effects on astronauts travelling to the Moon — or beyond.

Here are three examples of how acceleration occurs.


The majority of the processes that accelerate particles to relativistic speeds use electromagnetic fields — the same force that holds magnets on your refrigerator in place. Like two sides of the same coin, the two elements, electric and magnetic fields, work together to transport particles at relativistic speeds in the universe.

In essence, electromagnetic fields accelerate charged particles because the particles sense a force in an electromagnetic field that moves them along, similar to how gravity pulls at mass objects. Electromagnetic fields, under the right conditions, can accelerate particles at near-light speed.

On Earth, electric fields are commonly used on smaller scales to accelerate particles in laboratories. Pulsed electric fields are used in particle accelerators including the Large Hadron Collider and Fermilab to accelerate charged particles up to 99.99999896 percent the speed of light. The particles can be smashed together at these speeds, resulting in major energy collisions. This enables scientists to search for elementary particles and learn about the universe in the fractions of a second after the Big Bang.


Magnetic fields can be seen all over space, encircling the Earth and spanning the solar system. They also direct charged particles in space as they spiral across the fields.

When these magnetic fields collide, they may become entangled. As the strain between the crossed lines becomes too high, the lines snap and realign explosively, a process known as magnetic reconnection. Rapid changes in a region’s magnetic field produce electric currents, causing all of the resulting charged particles to be hurled away at high speeds. Scientists believe magnetic reconnection is one method by which particles, such as the solar wind, a steady stream of charged particles from the Sun, are accelerated to relativistic speeds.

Massive, invisible explosions occur all the time in the space around Earth.
These explosions are triggered by distorted magnetic fields that snap and realign, sending particles into space.
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Download related video from NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

These fast particles also have a number of side effects near planets. Magnetic reconnection happens near to us at points where the Sun’s magnetic field forces toward the Earth’s magnetosphere, which serves as a defensive magnetic setting. As magnetic reconnection occurs on Earth’s side facing away from the Sun, particles can be thrown into the upper atmosphere, where they ignite the auroras. Magnetic reconnection is often believed to be at work around other planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, but in somewhat different ways.


Interactions with electromagnetic waves, known as wave-particle interactions, can accelerate particles. The fields of electromagnetic waves can be compressed as they intersect. Similar to a ball bouncing between two merging walls, charged particles bouncing back and forth between the waves will gain energy.

These kinds of encounters happen all the time in near-Earth space, and they’re responsible for speeding particles to speeds fast enough to destroy electronics on spacecraft and satellites. The Van Allen Probes and other NASA missions assist scientists in their interpretation of wave-particle interactions.

Some cosmic rays that originate beyond our solar system are often believed to be accelerated by wave-particle interactions. A hot, dense shell of compressed gas known as a blast wave is expelled away from the stellar core following a supernova explosion. Wave-particle interactions in these bubbles, which are packed with magnetic fields and charged particles, will fire high-energy cosmic rays at 99.6 percent the speed of light. Wave-particle interactions can also play a role in the acceleration of the Sun’s solar wind and cosmic rays.

Electric and magnetic fields can add and remove energy from particles, changing their speeds.
Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization StudioCredits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
Download this and related videos in HD formats from NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

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