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near the noon meridian, later named the magnetopause.

In 1983, the International Cometary Explorer observed
the magnetotail, or the distant magnetic eld.[4]

2 Types
The structure and behavior of magnetospheres are depen-
dent on several variables: the type of astronomical ob-
ject, the nature of sources of plasma and momentum, the
A rendering of the magnetic eld lines of Earths magnetosphere period of the objects spin, the nature of the axis about
which the object spins, the axis of the magnetic dipole,
and the magnitude and direction of the ow of solar wind.
A magnetosphere is the region of space surrounding an
astronomical object in which charged particles are con- The distance at which a planet can withstand the solar
trolled by that objects magnetic eld.[1][2] The magnetic wind pressure is called the ChapmanFerraro distance.
eld near the surface of many astronomical objects re- This is modeled by a formula wherein RP represents the
sembles that of a dipole. The eld lines farther away from radius of the planet, Bsurf represents the magnetic eld
the surface can be signicantly distorted by the ow of on the surface of the planet at the equator, and VSW rep-
electrically conducting plasma emitted from a nearby star resents the velocity of the solar wind:
(e.g. the solar wind from the Sun).[3][4] ( 2 ) 16
RCF = RP 0 V 2

A magnetosphere is classied as intrinsic when

1 History RCF RP , or when the primary opposition to the
ow of solar wind is the magnetic eld of the object.
Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Ganymede, Saturn, Uranus, and
Main article: Magnetosphere chronology Neptune exhibit intrinsic magnetospheres. A magneto-
sphere is classied as induced when RCF RP ,
Study of Earths magnetosphere began in 1600, when or when the solar wind is not opposed by the objects
William Gilbert discovered that the magnetic eld on the magnetic eld. In this case, the solar wind interacts with
surface of Earth resembled that on a terrella, a small, the atmosphere or ionosphere of the planet (or surface
magnetized sphere. In the 1940s, Walter M. Elsasser of the planet, if the planet has no atmosphere). Venus
proposed the model of dynamo theory, which attributes has an induced magnetic eld, which means that because
Earths magnetic eld to the motion of Earths iron outer Venus appears to have no internal dynamo eect, the only
core. Through the use of magnetometers, scientists were magnetic eld present is that formed by the solar winds
able to study the variations in Earths magnetic eld as wrapping around the physical obstacle of Venus (see also
functions of both time and latitude and longitude. Begin- Venus induced magnetosphere). When RCF RP , the
ning in the late 1940s, rockets were used to study cosmic planet itself and its magnetic eld both contribute. It is
rays. In 1958, Explorer 1, the rst of the Explorer series possible that Mars is of this type.[5]
of space missions, was launched to study the intensity of
cosmic rays above the atmosphere and measure the uc-
tuations in this activity. This mission observed the exis- 3 Structure
tence of the Van Allen radiation belt (located in the in-
ner region of Earths magnetosphere), with the Explorer
3 mission later that year denitively proving its existence. 3.1 Bow shock
Also in 1958, Eugene Parker proposed the idea of the
solar wind. The term 'magnetosphere' was proposed by Main article: Bow shock
Thomas Gold in 1959. The Explorer 12 mission (1961)
led to the observation by Cahill and Amazeen in 1963 of The bow shock forms the outermost layer of the magne-
a sudden decrease in the strength of the magnetic eld tosphere; the boundary between the magnetosphere and


magnetic eld varies erratically. This is caused by the

1 2 3 5
collection of solar wind gas that has eectively under-
gone thermalization. It acts as a cushion that transmits
the pressure from the ow of the solar wind and the bar-
rier of the magnetic eld from the object.[4]

3.3 Magnetopause

Main article: Magnetopause

The magnetopause is the area of the magnetosphere

wherein the pressure from the planetary magnetic eld
is balanced with the pressure from the solar wind.[3] It
is the convergence of the shocked solar wind from the
magnetosheath with the magnetic eld of the object and
4 7 6 plasma from the magnetosphere. Because both sides of
this convergence contain magnetized plasma, the inter-
actions between them are complex. The structure of the
An artists rendering of the structure of a magnetosphere: 1) Bow magnetopause depends upon the Mach number and beta
shock. 2) Magnetosheath. 3) Magnetopause. 4) Magnetosphere. of the plasma, as well as the magnetic eld.[8] The mag-
5) Northern tail lobe. 6) Southern tail lobe. 7) Plasmasphere. netopause changes size and shape as the pressure from the
solar wind uctuates.[9]

3.4 Magnetotail

Opposite the compressed magnetic eld is the magneto-

tail, where the magnetosphere extends far beyond the as-
tronomical object. It contains two lobes, referred to as
the northern and southern tail lobes. Magnetic eld lines
in the northern tail lobe point towards the object while
those in the southern tail lobe point away. The tail lobes
are almost empty, with few charged particles opposing
the ow of the solar wind. The two lobes are separated
by a plasma sheet, an area where the magnetic eld is
weaker and the density of charged particles is higher.[10]

Infrared image and artists concept of the bow shock around R

Hydrae 3.5 Earths magnetosphere

the ambient medium. For stars, this is usually the bound- See also: Earths magnetic eld Magnetosphere
ary between the stellar wind and interstellar medium; for Over Earths equator, the magnetic eld lines become al-
planets, the speed of the solar wind there decreases as it
approaches the magnetopause.[6]

3.2 Magnetosheath

Main article: Magnetosheath

The magnetosheath is the region of the magnetosphere

between the bow shock and the magnetopause. It
is formed mainly from shocked solar wind, though
it contains a small amount of plasma from the Artists rendition of Earths magnetosphere
magnetosphere.[7] It is an area exhibiting high particle
energy ux, where the direction and magnitude of the most horizontal, then return to reconnect at high latitudes.

Magnetotail Plasma physics

Deected solar wind particles

Incoming solar wind particles

Plasma sheet 5 References
Van Allen radiation belt
[1] Magnetospheres. NASA Science. NASA.
Solar wind
[2] Ratclie, John Ashworth (1972). An Introduction to the
Ionosphere and Magnetosphere. CUP Archive. ISBN
Neutral sheet
Earth's atmosphere
0 - 100 km
[3] Ionosphere and magnetosphere. Encyclopedia Britan-
Polar cusp
nica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 2012.
Bow shock Magnetosheath
[4] Van Allen, James Alfred (2004). Origins of Magneto-
spheric Physics. Iowa City, Iowa USA: University of Iowa
Diagram of Earths magnetosphere Press. ISBN 9780877459217. OCLC 646887856.

[5] Blanc, M.; Kallenbach, R.; Erkaev, N.V. (2005).

However, at high altitudes, the magnetic eld is signi- Solar System Magnetospheres. Space Science Re-
cantly distorted by the solar wind and its solar magnetic views (116): 227298. Bibcode:2005SSRv..116..227B.
eld. On the dayside of Earth, the magnetic eld is signif- doi:10.1007/s11214-005-1958-y.
icantly compressed by the solar wind to a distance of ap- [6] Sparavigna, A.C.; Marazzato, R. (10 May 2010).
proximately 65,000 kilometers (40,000 mi). Earths bow Observing stellar bow shocks (PDF).
shock is about 17 kilometers (11 mi) thick[11] and located
about 90,000 kilometers (56,000 mi) from Earth.[12] The [7] Paschmann, G.; Schwartz, S.J.; Escoubet, C.P.; Haaland,
magnetopause exists at a distance of several hundred kilo- S., eds. (2005). Outer Magnetospheric Boundaries:
meters above Earths surface. Earths magnetopause has Cluster Results. Space Science Reviews. Dordrecht, The
Netherlands: Springer. 118 (1-4). doi:10.1007/1-4020-
been compared to a sieve because it allows solar wind
4582-4. ISBN 1-4020-3488-1.
particles to enter. KelvinHelmholtz instabilities occur
when large swirls of plasma travel along the edge of the [8] Russell, C.T. (1990). The Magnetopause. Physics of
magnetosphere at a dierent velocity from the magne- Magnetic Flux Ropes. Washington, D.C., USA: American
tosphere, causing the plasma to slip past. This results Geophysical Union: 439453.
in magnetic reconnection, and as the magnetic eld lines
[9] The Magnetopause. NASA.
break and reconnect, solar wind particles are able to en-
ter the magnetosphere.[13] On Earths nightside, the mag- [10] The Tail of the Magnetosphere. NASA.
netic eld extends in the magnetotail, which lengthwise
[11] Cluster reveals Earths bow shock is remarkably thin.
exceeds 6,300,000 kilometers (3,900,000 mi).[3] Earths
European Space Agency. 16 November 2011.
magnetotail is the primary source of the polar aurora.[10]
Also, NASA scientists have suggested that Earths mag- [12] Cluster reveals the reformation of Earths bow shock.
netotail might cause dust storms on the Moon by cre- European Space Agency. 11 May 2011.
ating a potential dierence between the day side and the
[13] Cluster observes a 'porous magnetopause. European
night side.[14] Space Agency. 24 October 2012.

3.6 Other objects magnetotail_080416.html NASA, The Moon and
the Magnetotail
The magnetosphere of Jupiter is the largest planetary
[15] Khurana, K.K.; Kivelson, M.G.; et al. (2004). The con-
magnetosphere in the Solar System, extending up to guration of Jupiters magnetosphere (PDF). In Bage-
7,000,000 kilometers (4,300,000 mi) on the dayside and nal, F.; Dowling, T.E.; McKinnon, W.B. Jupiter: The
almost to the orbit of Saturn on the nightside.[15] Jupiters Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere. Cambridge Univer-
magnetosphere is stronger than Earths by an order of sity Press. ISBN 0-521-81808-7.
magnitude, and its magnetic moment is approximately
18,000 times larger.[16] Pluto, on the other hand, has no [16] Russell, C.T. (1993). Planetary Magnetospheres
(PDF). Reports on Progress in Physics. 56 (6): 687
magnetic eld.[17]
732. Bibcode:1993RPPh...56..687R. doi:10.1088/0034-

4 See also [17] NASA (14 September 2016). X-ray Detection Sheds
New Light on Pluto. Retrieved 3 December
Geomagnetism Wikipedia book

6 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

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