Earth's Magnetosphere

This is the area around the Earth, that is dominated by the planets' magnetic field. This field, protects life on Earth from solar and other cosmic particle radiation, and from erosion by the solar wind - the constant flow of charged particles flowing from the Sun - which would otherwise strip away the Earth's upper atmosphere, including the ozone layer.

It is believed that it is generated by the convective motion of charged, molten iron, within Earth's outer core. It's shape is formed by the constant bombardment of the solar winds from the side facing the Sun (the 'day-side'). The 'night-side' extends out into a long tail, well beyond the moon. The Magnetosphere is a dynamic, interconnected system, responding to the Sun, planetary, and interstellar flux.

The Images

The images, except the last in the sequence (The Magnetic Poles and the Geodynamo) show the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. The Earth and Moon size and distances in between are to scale, but are about 20 times larger in proportion to the Sun, and are much closer.

To find out more about the Earth's Magnetosphere, and magnetism, then browse the blog posts below.

Finding our way

Magnetosphere
Earth's Magnetic Poles The variation between magnetic north (Nm) and "true" north (Ng) is around 11°. "True" North is the north of Earth's rotational axis, and the North geomagnetic pole, which is in fact the south pole of Earth's magnetic field, is located near Greenland in the northern hemisphere. Earth's magnetic field polarity changes overtime, driven by changes in the Earth's crust - the geodynamo of iron alloys, and is recorded in certain rocks, particularly

Light shows and dynamos

Magnetosphere
Auroras  Aurora Borealis in the Artic (northern lights), and the Aurora Australis in the Antarctic (southern lights). Auroras are produced when solar explosions, known as coronal mass ejection, generate highly charged particles, that flow within the solar winds. These are able to disturb the Earth's magnetosphere sufficiently to enter into the lower regions of the atmosphere, by flowing down the magnetic field lines at the north and south magnetic poles. Within the atmosphere, the solar particles and the disturbed magnetic fields

The Magnetosphere’s different elements

Magnetosphere
Solar Winds and the Bow Shock Solar winds are made up of streams of charged particles, which are released from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. The winds are a plasma - a soup of disconnected protons, and electrons and other particles - that varies in temperature, direction, and density over time. As the solar winds blow from the Sun, travelling at speeds of 400 to 750 km/s, and they encounter the Earth's magnetic field,

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