The Magnetosphere and Magnetic Field

Jupiter is encased in its own magnetosphere as Earth is, with one big exception. Jupiter's magnetosphere is big, really big. According to Harland, "Jupiter's magnetosphere is the largest discreet structure in the solar system. It is millions of kilometers across and tens of millions of kilometers long. In fact, if it could be seen by the naked eye, it would appear larger than the Moon in our night sky - it would span 1.5°, compared to 0.5° for the Moon" [176]. Hill describes it as approximately 20 solar diameters wide and several astronomical units in length (Fig. 5.1) [177]. Now that is an enormous structure!

In attempting to comprehend the great size of Jupiter's magnetosphere, we can express it as a multiple of Jupiter's radius. Jupiter's radius is measured from its center to its "surface"; RJ represents one Jupiter radii, or 71,400 km. The distance from Jupiter's center to the bow shock can be 100 Rr Jupiter's magnetotail can stretch to a radius of 150-200 Rj. Jupiter's magnetosphere is so large because it is inflated by hot plasma and by the centrifugal force of the cooler co-rotating plasma sheet, to be discussed.

The magnetosphere is divided into three zones (Fig. 5.2). The outer zone is the most rarified and its shape and structure are variable. The middle zone contains an equatorial sheet of plasma that co-rotates with the planet's magnetic field. The inner zone contains the Io torus, the densest part of the magnetosphere. The structure of the magnetosphere can be further described as consisting of several parts. Its outer boundary is formed by its interaction with the solar wind - that tenuous magnetic field and plasma that streams outward from the Sun. The solar wind wraps itself around the sunward side of Jupiter's magnetosphere, spilling around the planet as c j? o .!=

C 3 3 uitAn

Solar wind

Sun ward

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know all about the telescopes that can provide a fun and rewarding hobby for you and your family!

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment