Plasmapause Convects to the Magnetopause During Halloween Solar Storm

  • Released Wednesday, December 15th, 2004
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:56PM
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The plasmasphere is a region of ionospheric plasma which co-rotates with the Earth, carried by the magnetic field lines. The plasmapause marks the outer boundary of this region. This colder plasma is more easily moved by the electric fields created by strong solar storms. In the Halloween 2003 event, these fields convected some of the cold plasma out to the magnetopause (gray, semi-transparent surface) and reduced the size of the cold plasma region near the Earth. For this visualization, the 3-dimensional structure was constructed from the equatorial profile of the plasmapause (as measured by IMAGE/EUV data) by extending the region along field lines of a simple dipole field.

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?.

Later still, the plasmasphere near the Earth is greatly reduced in extent, making it easier for hot radiation belt electrons to move closer to the Earth.

Later still, the plasmasphere near the Earth is greatly reduced in extent, making it easier for hot radiation belt electrons to move closer to the Earth.



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NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio


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