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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
This is an image of the Earth's magnetosphere.
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Original artwork by the Windows to the Universe team.

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 magnetic flux.

These particles are responsible for many wonderful natural phenomena such as the aurora and natural radio emissions such as lion roars and whistler waves. Other phenomena include the donut shaped torus which circulates with moons which are inside the magnetosphere. The moons have wakes and wings associated with them while inside the magnetosphere.

The particles move and circulate about the magnetosphere and even generate storms. The magnetosphere changes constantly, even flipping its orientation every few thousand years.

Last modified December 3, 2008 by Randy Russell.

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The magnetosheath is the region of space between the bow shock and the magnetopause. The magnetosheath has properties distinct from either the solar wind or the magnetosphere, though the plasma and magnetic...more

The Plasma Sheet

The plasma sheet is simply that, a sheet of plasma that extends down the magnetotail dividing the two lobes of the Earth's magnetic field. The particle density here is about 0.5 cm-3 for both electrons...more

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The lobes of the magnetosphere are a vast region of the magnetotail between the magnetopause and the central plasma sheet. The lobes have opposite magnetic direction. In fact, if the plasma sheet didn't...more

The Earth's Plasmasphere

The plasmasphere is a torus-shaped region within the Earth's magnetosphere. The Earth's plasmasphere is made of just that - plasma. It has a very sharp edge called the plasmapause at equatorial distances...more

Radiation Belts

The Earth's radiation belts are one component of the larger and more complex system called the magnetosphere. The radiation belts of the Earth are made up of energetic, electrically charged particles or...more

The Magnetic Field

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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