The magnetic field of Jupiter is approximately twenty to thirty times stronger than that of Earth. Because of its strength and great distance from the sun, Jupiter has a magnetosphere that is considerably larger than the magnetosphere of Earth. If we could see the Jovian magnetosphere from Earth, it would appear close to the size of the moon in the sky, despite our great distance from Jupiter.
Jupiter's magnetosphere has three distinct regions. The inner region is doughnut-shaped, with the planet in the hole of the doughnut. This region is similar to Earth's inner magnetosphere, but more intense; containing several shells, where protons and electrons of enormous energies concentrate, as they do in Earth's Van Allen radiation belts. Jupiter's small innermost satellite, Amalthea, and three of its large satellites Io, Europa, and Ganymede travel through this inner region.
The middle region of Jupiter's magnetosphere has no Earthly counterpart. The middle Jovian region consists of a sheath of electrically charged particles being whirled around rapidly by the rotation of Jupiter's magnetic field. These particles strongly distort the intrinsic magnetic field of Jupiter.
The outer region is similar to the outer magnetosphere of Earth in that its shape is affected by the solar wind, a blizzard of electrons and protons that blows across space from the sun. The solar wind often forces the magnetic field of Jupiter back toward the planet, squeezing the magnetosphere as though it were a great air-filled bag. Leaks develop, from which high-energy particles 'squirt' across the solar system. Some of these particles have been detected in the atmospheres of Earth and Mercury by orbiting and interplanetary spacecraft.
The energized particles in the Jovian magnetosphere appear to have several sources. Some originate in the planet's ionosphere; others appear to be injected into the magnetosphere from the surface of the satellites. Io, in particular, is believed to interact with the Jovian magnetic field to produce energetic electrons, while volcanic activity on Io and the bombardment of Io's surface with energetic particles are believed to be responsible for releasing sodium, potassium, and sulfur ions into the magnetosphere. These atoms and ions form neutral clouds around Io and a doughnut-shaped torus of ions circling Jupiter in the plane of the magnetic equator.
Investigations of this complex toric region of plasma, where gas is fully ionized, are important in understanding not only the magnetosphere of Earth but other plasmas in general. Since most of the intensely energetic processes of the universe take place in plasmas, their study is important to future energy research, particularly in fusion power. The dynamic magnetosphere of Jupiter provides us with a unique laboratory for the study of these and other issues of astrophysics.
Which of the following titles best describes the content of the passage?
A) A Comparison of the Magnetospheres of Jupiter and Earth
B) The Three Regions of Jupiter's Magnetosphere
C) The Jovian Magnetosphere
D) The Magnetic Field of Jupiter
E) Jupiter: The Dynamic Planet
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