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The pink lines in the image represent the magnetic field lines of the Earth.
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Basic Facts About the Effects of Magnetic Fields on Charged Particles

Magnetic fields can cause particles to move in these three ways:


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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Basic Facts About Spiral Motion

Charged particles cannot easily move across magnetic field lines but are forced to spiral around them. Electrons encirle the field line in one direction, ions in the other direction....more

Basic Facts About Bounce Motion

Not only do particles spiral around magnetic field lines but they also move along the field lines toward the Earth. The crowded magnetic field lines near the poles cause particles to "reflect" and move...more

The comet's interaction with interplanetary space, part 2

The magnetic field of the sun (the IMF) is distorted in passing over the comet, taking a long time to slip around the sizeable ion cloud which forms the comet coma. The stretched magnetic field lines form...more

How Does the Earth's Magnetic Field Protect Us From Space Radiation?

Dangerous particles are not able to penetrate to the Earth's surface but are forced by the magnetic field to move around the Earth. Particles gain entry through the cusps that are shaped like funnels over...more

Magnetosphere

A magnetosphere has many parts, such as the bow shock, magnetosheath, magnetotail, plasmasheet, lobes, plasmasphere, radiation belts and many electric currents. It is composed of charged particles and...more

Charged Particle Motion in Earth's Magnetosphere

Motions within Earth's metallic core generate the planet's global magnetic field. This magnetic field extends beyond Earth's surface and atmosphere into the space surrounding our home planet. The interaction...more

AU

AU stands for Astronomical Units. Distances in space are too large to measure in Earth standards like miles or kilometers. For distances too large to measue in AU, we use light years. A light year is the...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF