Asymmetric magnetosphere

Asymmetric magnetosphere

Fig. 3.13 . The Earth’s magnetic field carves out a hollow in the solar wind, creating a protective cavity called the magnetosphere (blue). It is sculpted into an asymmetric shape by the solar wind, with a bow shock that forms at about ten Earth radii on the sunlit, day-side facing the Sun (left). The location of the bow shock is highly variable since it is pushed in and out by the gusty solar wind. The magnetopause marks the outer boundary of the magnetosphere, at the place where the solar wind takes control of the motions of charged particles. The solar wind is deflected around the Earth, pulling the terrestrial magnetic field into a long magnetotail on the night side (right). The red regions in the inner magnetosphere contain the plasmasphere, the ring current and the outer Van Allen belt, where electrons, protons and other ions are trapped in closed paths. (Courtesy of ESA.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University