University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Tuesday, February 3rd 2015
1:25 pm:
Space Physics Seminar in 435 Physics
Speaker: Brian Walsh, Space Sciences Lab, UC Berkeley
Subject:  The Earth’s Magnetosphere and the Art of Self-Defense

From the whopping magnetic fields surrounding neutron stars to the feeble crustal fields of Mars, magnetized bodies and their magnetospheres are present throughout the universe. Although the outer boundary, or the magnetopause, often shields the magnetized body from the surrounding space environment, energy can sometimes pass through and cause significant disturbances. At the Earth, the understanding developed over the past several decades is that the energy coupled in from the flowing solar wind is purely a function of the conditions within the solar wind. In contrast to this, I will present new spacecraft observations from the THEMIS mission as well as ground-based measurements suggesting the magnetosphere, with the help of a plasmaspheric plume, is defending itself from intense solar activity. In this framework, the internal conditions within a magnetosphere can impact and even control how energy is coupled in from the outside environment.

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