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The IMF is represented by the blue arcs in the picture above. This picture shows the spiral nature of the IMF.
Click on image for full size


The Sun acts like it has a big magnet in the middle of it. We call this the Sun's magnetic field.

The Sun's magnetic field has a fancier name, the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF). This just means that the Sun's magnetic field is so huge that it passes all of the planets. Can you imagine a bar magnet that is so huge and powerful that it reaches all the way out to Pluto?! The Sun's magnetic field does hit a boundary way past Pluto called the heliopause.

The magnetic field of the Sun is carried by the solar wind which comes out from the Sun. The solar wind and magnetic field are twisted into a spiral by the Sun's rotation.

Last modified June 3, 2003 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