Currents in a magnetosphere are like veins in the human body. They carry particles from one region to another. There are three main currents in a magnetosphere.
- Chapman-Ferraro currents (in green)
- cross-tail currents (in blue)
- Field-Aligned currents (FAC's) in red)
The Chapman-Ferraro currents go around the outside of the magnetosphere and confine it.
Cross-tail currents pass through the center of the magnetotail, so that region is known as the "current sheet".
Field-Aligned currents show up sometimes (during magnetic storms), when particles need to take a short cut through a planet's atmosphere. These currents cause the aurora at the north and south p
Return to "What is a Magnetosphere?"
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
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
This picture shows the flowing of particles into and out of the auroral zone, as Field-Aligned currents (FAC's) take at short-cut through the atmosphere. Some of the particles entering the auroral zone...more
A satellite which has an atmosphere, such as Jupiter's moon Io, or even one with an icy surface which is exposed to energetic particles, such as Saturn's moon Rhea, will leave a cloud of particles behind...more
There is a giant magnetic "bubble" in space around the Sun. That "bubble" is called the heliosphere. In a sense, we Earthlings live within the outer atmosphere of our Sun. The solar...more
AU stands for Astronomical Units. It is a useful way to measure the distances in interplanetary space. It is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is about 93 million miles. For reference,...more
The solar wind is formed as the Sun's top layer blows off into space, carrying magnetic fields still attached to the Sun. Gusts form in the solar wind associated with violent events on the Sun. Particles...more
For a planet to be affected by a blob of material being ejected by the sun, the planet must be in the path of the blob, as shown in this picture. The Earth and its magnetosphere are shown in the bottom...more