This animation shows how particles from the Sun are diverted by the Earth's magnetic field.
Movie provided courtesy of Professor Patricia Reiff, Rice University Connections Program
How Does the Earth's Magnetic Field Protect Us From Space Radiation?
Dangerous particles from the Sun don't hit the Earth's surface. They are forced by the Earth's magnetic field to move around the Earth. You can think of the Earth's magnetic field as a big shield from any dangerous particles that come from the Sun.
If you look at the movie, you'll see that some of the particles do make it to the Earth's atmosphere. These particles cause the aurora.
You might also be interested in:
The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles. The magnetic field of the Earth is surrounded by the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere keeps most of the particles from the sun, carried in solar...more
AU stands for Astronomical Units. It is an easy way to measure large distances in space. It is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is about 93 million miles. For really big distances, we...more
The solar wind is formed as the Sun's top layer blows off into space. It carries magnetic fields still attached to the Sun. Streams appear to flow into space as if they are spiraling out from the Sun,...more
For a planet to be affected by a blob of material being ejected by the sun, the planet must be in the path of the blob, as shown in this picture. The Earth and its magnetosphere are shown in the bottom...more
If someone says they saw an aurora, you might picture something like this. There is another type of aurora that we can't see. These aurora are called SAR arcs. The SAR stands for Stable Auroral Red. That...more
This figure shows the effect of the aurora on the atmosphere. When FAC's enter the atmosphere and create the aurora, they heat the atmosphere suddenly and abruptly. This creates an impulse which travels...more
This picture shows the flowing of particles into and out of the auroral zone, as Field-Aligned currents (FAC's) take at short-cut through the atmosphere. Some of the particles entering the auroral zone...more