The Geomagnetic Tail: Topology, Reconnection and Interaction with the Moon

  • C. P. Sonett
  • D. S. Colburn
  • R. G. Currie
  • J. D. Mihalov
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 10)


A preliminary assessment of the geometry of the geomagnetic tail is made using data from the Ames magnetometer on the Explorer 33 satellite. The general shape corresponds to the earlier findings of Ness and coworkers. The tail is found regular to distances greater than 82 R E. The field values vary for Kp ⩽ 2 + from a low of about 4 gamma to a high value of 40 gamma. Generally the values are in the neighborhood of 10–20 gamma. A distinct skewing of the field lines away from the solar-antisolar direction is observed, such that an added component of magnetic field in the direction of planetary motion is present on both sides of the null plane. The skewing appears to be greatest near the null plane. Increase in field magnitude with increasing Kp is observed. The radial gradient can be shown to fit a power or exponential law with near equal validity. A correlation analysis of field magnitude with radial distance, ap, and transverse position coordinates also is discussed. Little cross gradient is observed in the tail field. Strong evidence for reconnection of field lines is found, and statistics are presented for a dual effect regarding the residual Z field across the null plane. Lastly the interaction of the tail field with the moon is discussed in terms of the mechanism of Sonett and Colburn.


Solar Wind Radial Gradient Field Magnitude Planetary Motion Earth Radius 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. P. Sonett
    • 1
  • D. S. Colburn
    • 1
  • R. G. Currie
    • 1
  • J. D. Mihalov
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Sciences Division, Ames Research CenterNASAMoffett FieldUSA

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