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Earth's Radiation Belts Tremble Under Impact of Solar Storm

Under the wave of energetic particles from the Halloween 2003 solar storm events, the Earth's radiation belts underwent significant changes in structure. This visualization is constructed using daily-averaged particle flux data from the SAMPEX satellite installed in a simple dipole model for the Earth's magnetic field. The toroidal structure of the belts corresponds to regions with electron fluxes in excess of 100 electrons/s/cm^2/steradian with energies of 2-6 MeV. The color-scale on the cross section is violet for low flux and white for high flux. The translucent gray arcs represent the fields lines of the Earth's dipole field. The 3-dimensional structure was built from the SAMPEX measurement by propagating the particle flux values along field lines of a simple magnetic dipole.

NOTE: This visualization shows the Earth's magnetic dipole field lines rotating rigidly with the Earth. Technically, this is inaccurate. Ions and electrons in the lower atmosphere can create currents which can make these lines 'drag' with Earth's rotation, but this will occur mostly near the Earth and not higher up. More details on this process can be found in the FAQ at the The Exploration of the Earth's Magnetosphere web site, Does the Earth's magnetic field rotate?.

Visualization Credits

Tom Bridgman (GST): Lead Animator
James W. Williams (GST): Animator
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Daniel Baker (LASP): Scientist
Shrikanth G. Kanekal (NOAA): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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Solar Anomalous and Magnetospherice Particle Explorer (SAMPEX)

Data Used:
Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX)/PET 2003/10/17 - 2003/12/25

This item is part of this series:
Halloween 2003 Solar Storms Revisited

Goddard TV Tape:

SVS >> Geomagnetic Field
SVS >> Magnetosphere
DLESE >> Space science
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions
SVS >> Radiation Belts
SVS >> Space Weather
SVS >> For Educators
SVS >> Space Science
SVS >> Earth Science >> El Nino
NASA Science >> Earth
NASA Science >> Sun

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version