A magnetosphere is that area of space, around a planet, that is controlled by the planet’s magnetic field. The shape of the Earth’s magnetosphere is the direct result of being blasted by solar wind. The solar wind compresses its sunward side to a distance of only 6 to 10 times the radius of the Earth.
A supersonic shock wave is created sunward of Earth called the bow shock. Most of the solar wind particles are heated and slowed at the bow shock and detour around the Earth in the magnetosheath. The solar wind drags out the night-side magnetosphere to possibly 1000 times Earth’s radius; its exact length is not known. This extension of the magnetosphere is known as the magnetotail. The outer boundary of Earth’s confined geomagnetic field is called the magnetopause. The Earth’s magnetosphere is a highly dynamic structure that responds dramatically to solar variations.
Also residing within the magnetosphere are areas of trapped charged particles; the inner and outer Van Allen Radiation Belts, the plasmasphere, and the plasmasheet.
The Sun and its atmosphere consist of several zones or layers. From the inside out, the solar interior consists of:
The Core – the central region where nuclear reactions consume hydrogen to form helium. These reactions release the energy that ultimately leaves the surface as visible light.
The Radiative Zone – extends outward from the outer edge of the core to base of the convection zone, characterized by the method of energy transport – radiation.
The Convection Zone – the outermost layer of the solar interior extending from a depth of about 200,000 km to the visible surface where its motion is seen as granules and supergranules.
The solar atmosphere is made up of:
The Photosphere – the visible surface of the Sun.
The Chromosphere – an irregular layer above the photosphere where the temperature rises from 6000°C to about 20,000°C.
A Transition Region – a thin and very irregular layer of the Sun’s atmosphere that separates the hot corona from the much cooler chromosphere.
The Corona – the Sun’s outer atmosphere.
Beyond the corona is the solar wind, which is actually an outward flow of coronal gas. The Sun’s magnetic fields rise through the convection zone and erupt through the photosphere into the chromosphere and corona. The eruptions lead to solar activity, which includes such phenomena as sunspots, flares, prominences, and coronal mass ejections.