Space Science Reviews

, Volume 2, Issue 6, pp 862–870 | Cite as

Hydromagnetics of the magnetosphere

  • H. Alfvén


Different models of the magnetosphere are discussed critically. It is pointed out that there is a principal difference between the case when the impinging interplanetary plasma has no initial magnetization, B0 = 0, (as in the Chapman-Ferraro theory), and the case when the plasma is initially magnetized, B0 ≠ 0, even if B0 is very small.

In the former case the plasma remains unmagnetized (like a superconductor) and cannot penetrate into the magnetosphere. Therefore the plasma is separated by a sharp boundary from the magnetosphere, (“closed magnetosphere” model).

In the latter case when the plasma is magnetized (which is more realistic) there is a possibility that field lines run from the earth to infinity (“open magnetosphere” model). Particles from the interplanetary space may penetrate into the magnetosphere. At the same time there may be a number of discontinuity surfaces of different character, such as the Cahill discontinuity.

It is important to make terrella experiments in order to study the complicated phenomena occurring when a magnetized plasma penetrates into a dipole field.


Field Line Sharp Boundary Interplanetary Space Discontinuity Surface Principal Difference 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1963

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Alfvén
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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