Wednesday, May 4, 2011

NASA Image: Earth's magnetic Field

This image released by the Nasa Earth Observatory is a visualisation of the magnetic field around Earth - the magnetosphere - as it might look from space.

The orange and blue lines depict the opposite north and south polarity of Earth's field lines.

The field lines are not actually visible, but they can be detected by sensors that count atomic particles - protons and electrons moving in the space around Earth. Unlike the symmetrical pattern of iron filings around a magnet, the magnetosphere is pushed in on the side facing the Sun and stretched out in the Earth's wake.

This is caused by the solar wind, a stream of high-speed particles flowing out from the Sun and carrying the signatures of its own magnetic field.

Picture: AFP / NASA

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