Earth’s Magnetosphere Behaves Like A Sieve


ESA’s quartet of satellites studying Earth’s magnetosphere, Cluster, has discovered that our protective magnetic bubble lets the solar wind in under a wider range of conditions than previously believed.

Earth’s magnetic field is our planet’s first line of defence against the bombardment of the solar wind. This stream of plasma is launched by the Sun and travels across the Solar System, carrying its own magnetic field with it.

Depending on how the solar wind’s interplanetary magnetic field – IMF – is aligned with Earth’s magnetic field, different phenomena can arise in Earth’s immediate environment.

One well-known process is magnetic reconnection, where magnetic field lines pointing in opposite directions spontaneously break and reconnect with other nearby field lines. This redirects their plasma load into the magnetosphere, opening the door to the solar wind and allowing it to reach Earth.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMOVAMFL8H_index_0.html
Also: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=50977
Also: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/solarwind-insight.html

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