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Drawing of Earth's magnetosphere. Notice that the magnetic field is much larger than the planet!
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The Earth's Magnetic Field

The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles. The Earth's magnetic field reaches 36,000 miles into space.

The magnetic field of the Earth is surrounded in a region called the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere prevents most of the particles from the sun, carried in solar wind, from hitting the Earth.

Some particles from the solar wind can enters the magnetosphere. The particles that enter from the magnetotail travel toward the Earth and create the auroral oval light shows.

The Sun and other planets have magnetospheres, but the Earth has the strongest one of all the rocky planets. The Earth's north and south magnetic poles reverse at irregular intervals of hundreds of thousands of years.

Last modified March 29, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA