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Magnetospheric plasma interactions
KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory. KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
1994 (English)In: Astrophysics and Space Science, ISSN 0004-640X, E-ISSN 1572-946X, Vol. 214, 3-17 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Earth’s magnetosphere (including the ionosphere) is our nearest cosmical plasma system and the only one accessible to mankind for extensive empirical study by in situ measurements. As virtually all matter in the universe is in the plasma state, the magnetosphere provides an invaluable sample of cosmical plasma from which we can learn to better understand the behaviour of matter in this state, which is so much more complex than that of unionized matter. It is therefore fortunate that the magnetosphere contains a wide range of different plasma populations, which vary in density over more than six powers of ten and even more in equivalent temperature. Still more important is the fact that its dual interaction with the solar wind above and the atmosphere below make the magnetosphere the site of a large number of plasma phenomena that are of fundamental interest in plasma physics as well as in astrophysics and cosmology. The interaction of the rapidly streaming solar wind plasma with the magnetosphere feeds energy and momentum, as well as matter, into the magnetosphere. Injection from the solar wind is a source of plasma populations in the outer magnetosphere, although much less dominating than previously thought. We now know that the Earth’s own atmosphere is the ultimate source of much of the plasma in large regions of the magnetosphere. The input of energy and momentum drives large scale convection of magnetospheric plasma and establishes a magnetospheric electric field and large scale electric current systems that carry millions of ampere between the ionosphere and outer space. These electric fields and currents play a crucial role in generating one of the most spectacular among natural phenomena, the aurora, as well as magnetic storms that can disturb man-made systems on ground and in orbit. The remarkable capability of accelerating charged particles, which is so typical of cosmical plasmas, is well represented in the magnetosphere, where mechanisms of such acceleration can be studied in detail. In situ measurements in the magnetosphere have revealed an unexpected tendency of cosmical plasmas to form cellular structure, and shown that the magnetospheric plasma sustains previously unexpected, and still not fully explained, chemical separation mechanisms, which are likely to operate in other cosmical plasmas as well.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1994. Vol. 214, 3-17 p.
National Category
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-92880DOI: 10.1007/BF00982321OAI: diva2:514351
2nd United-Nations/European-Space-Agency Workshop for Developing Countries: Basic Space Science, BOGOTA, COLUMBIA, NOV 09-13, 1992 NR 20140805Available from: 2012-04-08 Created: 2012-04-07 Last updated: 2012-04-08Bibliographically approved

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