The heliospheric magnetic field

André Balogh, Géza Erdõs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

14 Citations (Scopus)


The Heliospheric Magnetic Field (HMF) is the physical framework in which energetic particles and cosmic rays propagate. Changes in the large scale structure of the magnetic field lead to short- and long term changes in cosmic ray intensities, in particular in anti-phase with solar activity. The origin of the HMF in the corona is well understood and inner heliospheric observations can generally be linked to their coronal sources. The structure of heliospheric magnetic polarities and the heliospheric current sheet separating the dominant solar polarities are reviewed here over longer than a solar cycle, using the three dimensional heliospheric observations by Ulysses. The dynamics of the HMF around solar minimum activity is reviewed and the development of stream interaction regions following the stable flow patterns of fast and slow solar wind in the inner heliosphere is described. The complex dynamics that affects the evolution of the stream interaction regions leads to a more chaotic structure of the HMF in the outer heliosphere is described and discussed on the basis of the Voyager observations. Around solar maximum, solar activity is dominated by frequent transients, resulting in the interplanetary counterparts of Coronal Mass Ejections (ICMEs). These produce a complex aperiodic pattern of structures in the inner heliosphere, at all heliolatitudes. These structures continue to interact and evolve as they travel to the outer heliosphere. However, linking the observations in the inner and outer heliospheres is possible in the case of the largest solar transients that, despite their evolutions, remain recognizably large structures and lead to the formation of Merged Interaction Regions (MIRs) that may well form a quasi-spherical, "global" shell of enhanced magnetic fields around the Sun at large distances. For the transport of energetic particles and cosmic rays, the fluctuations in the magnetic field and their description in alternative turbulent models remains a very important research topic. These are also briefly reviewed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-215
Number of pages39
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2013



  • Energetic particle transport
  • Heliosphere
  • Magnetic fields
  • Magnetic fluctuations
  • Solar wind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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