Diagram showing the Earth's magnetosphere

Diagram showing the Earth's magnetosphere

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Credit: SALLY BENSUSEN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Diagram showing the interaction of the Earth's magnetosphere (blue region) with the solar wind (yellow arrows). The solar wind is a stream of atomic particles flowing outwards from the Sun. The Earth's outer magnetic field or magnetosphere is distorted by the wind, forming a bow-shaped shock front on the sunward side (left) and, on the opposite side, a magnetotail millions of kilometres in length. Some of the particles entering the magnetosphere (red arrows) spiral down the magnetic field lines onto the poles, where they form oval belts of aurorae. Others become trapped in two concentric, doughnut- shaped regions (red) known as the Van Allen belts.

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Keywords: art, artwork, aurorae, earth science, formation of, illustration, magnetic field, magnetism, magnetosphere, of earth, sciences, solar wind, van allen belts, whole earth

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