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Gyration in a uniform magnetic field
Of fundamental importance in space physics is how individual particles behave in the presence
of electric and magnetic elds. The resulting particle orbits can usually be thought of as the
sum of two parts, gyration a
Magnetohydrodynamics is the description of fluid (or gas) flow in a medium that is electrically conducting. As with hydrodynamics, it is a continuum description based on simple
conservation laws (mass, momentu
Please refer to http:/farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/plasma/lectures/node66.html, on which
these notes are based. I use slightly dierent notation and units relative to this web site.
In particular note that the URL expresses temperature in
This document will outline and review some of the basic properties of electromagnetism,
with emphasis on the development of the Maxwell equations.
Units and Definitions
Well start with a table (a condensed version of information fro
The presence of the ionosphere was speculated by Gauss in 1839 to explain the daily variations
of the geomagnetic eld. The ionosphere is formed by photoionization of the atmospheric
gasses with its lower boundary at an altitude of about 6
Hydrodynamics in Space Physics
One of the simplest approaches to modeling space plasmas is to assume that the equations
of hydrodynamics may be applied. In this limit, all electric and magnetic eects are ignored.
While not justied rigourously (the mean
Shock Waves in the Solar Wind
A shock wave is loosely defined as a very strong pressure wave that propagates at speed in excess
of the local sound speed. Material passing through a shock is slowed, compressed, and heated.
Shock waves can be created for
What is Space (Plasma) Physics?
As we will learn in the future lectures, the Sun's atmosphere (Photosphere, Chromosphere,
and the Corona) has no upper end near the Sun, but rather extends into the Solar System
well beyond Pluto's orbit
Vectors and Vector Fields
In this course we will study a variety of fluids and gasses ranging from the Earths atmosphere
to the surface of the sun. This will require at least a basic usage of vectors and vector fields.
The purpose of this handout is to
Table 1. Air composition, Ground level
Component Volume (%) Component Volume (%)
As was discussed in an earlier lecture on hydrodynamics, a crude model of the E
Figure 1: Cutaway of Earths interior (from (6)
Earths Structure and Magnetic Field
The Earths Interior
The Earth is roughly spherical in shape with a radius of approximately 6370 km (4000
mi). Since it is only possible to drill down to less than 8 m
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1. General Characteristics
a. A typical star
b. Radius RS = 696, 000 km or about 109 RE , where RE is the Earth's radius.
c. Mass m = 1.989 x 1030 kg
d. Composed mainly of H (92.1%) and He (7.8%) with traces of C, N, 0, Mg, Si, S, Ar, Ca,