The Magnetopause

  1. C. T. Russell,
  2. E. R. Priest and
  3. L. C. Lee
  1. C. T. Russell

Published Online: 21 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM058p0439

Physics of Magnetic Flux Ropes

Physics of Magnetic Flux Ropes

How to Cite

Russell, C. T. (1990) The Magnetopause, in Physics of Magnetic Flux Ropes (eds C. T. Russell, E. R. Priest and L. C. Lee), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM058p0439

Author Information

  1. Earth and Space Sciences Department and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90024–1567

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1990

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900261

Online ISBN: 9781118663868



  • Solar photosphere;
  • Magnetic flux;
  • Astrophysics


The magnetopause is the interface between the shocked solar wind in the magnetosheath and the geomagnetic field and plasma in the magnetosphere. This interface is far from simple because both sides of the interface contain magnetized plasma. As a result there are boundary layers on both sides of the interface so the resulting structure is many ion gyro radii thick. There is also substructure which may be much less than an ion gyro radius in thickness. The structure of the magnetopause is also sensitive to the Mach number and beta of the plasma. When the beta is very high the magnetopause resembles a slow mode wave. When the IMF is southward and the Mach number and/or beta is low the plasma is accelerated much as Dungey predicted. However, at other times reconnection seems to be less steady and perhaps patchy. Rope-like structures are seen which may be connected to the magnetosphere. These structures which have been called FTE's are still not fully understood.