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The following image is an artist’s impression of the solar wind and the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is a dough-nut shaped field around the Earth and is caused by the interaction of the Earth’s magnetic field with the solar wind emanating from the Sun.





















Image courtesy NASA


The sun-ward side of the magnetosphere is compressed by the solar wind, and the pressure on it varies with the magnitude of solar flares. The magnetosphere on the dark side of the Earth extends a long way out from it.


Lines of magnetic force around the Earth exist between the two magnetic poles, one in the north and the other in the south, at the auroral areas.



























The Mechanism for Planetary Growth


Some of the cosmic dust, being pulled on its journey towards the Sun, may come into the vicinity of the Earth’s magnetic field. Photo-ionisation, caused by the ultraviolet energy of the solar wind, takes place constantly on the surface of these cosmic particles and a stream of ions are released. Because these ions are charged, they are affected by the Earth’s magnetic field and confined to layered belts around the Earth, depending upon their energy levels. These layers are known as the Outer Van Allen Belt, the Inner Van Allen Belt, and the Ionosphere. The Inner Van Allen Belt is 4000 to 9500 km from the surface of the Earth, depending upon its latitude position. In what is known as the South Atlantic Anomaly (off the coast  of Argentina) it dips down towards the ionosphere.


When there are solar flares, the bow wave of the solar wind acting on the Earth’s magnetosphere pushes the inner Van Allen Belt further in towards the ionosphere. This phenomenon was first recognised by Chapman and Ferraro in 1958. It is likely that when this happens, ions are dumped into the ionosphere.


From here negatively charged ions may eventually get jetted into the Earth’s crust at the Aurora borealis area, pulled by magnetic forces from beneath the crust. Similarly positive ions may get pulled into the southern equivalent, the Aurora Australis.

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