Earth's magnetosphere


Fig. 3.14 . The Earth’s magnetic field carves out a hollow in the solar wind, creating a protective cavity called the magnetosphere. The Earth, its auroras, atmosphere and ionosphere, and the two Van Allen radiation belts all lie within this magnetic cocoon. Similar magnetospheres are found around other magnetized planets. Electrons and protons in the solar wind are deflected at the bow shock (left), and flow along the magnetopause into the magnetic tail (right). Electrified particles can be injected back toward the Earth and Sun within the plasma sheet (center).

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University