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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Sun-Earth Day 2010: Magnetic Storms.

Sun-Earth Day 2010: Magnetic Storms

IMAGE GALLERY

The heliospheric current sheet is shaped like a ballerina's skirt. However, the current sheet is flattening. Imagine the sun wearing a ballerina's skirt as wide as the entire solar system with an electrical current flowing along the wavy folds. That is the 'heliospheric current sheet,' a vast transition zone where the polarity of the sun's magnetic field changes from plus(north) to minus (south). The current sheet is important because cosmic rays tend to be guided by its folds. Lately, the current sheet has been flattening itself out, allowing cosmic rays more direct access to the inner solar system.
The Heliospheric Current Sheet

The heliospheric current sheet is shaped like a ballerina's skirt. However, the current sheet is flattening. Imagine the sun wearing a ballerina's skirt as wide as the entire solar system with an electrical current flowing along the wavy folds. That is the "heliospheric current sheet," a vast transition zone where the polarity of the sun's magnetic field changes from plus (north) to minus (south). The current sheet is important because cosmic rays tend to be guided by its folds. Lately, the current sheet has been flattening itself out, allowing cosmic rays more direct access to the inner solar system. Read more at: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/ray_surge.html
Credit: J. R. Jokipii, University of Arizona