Question: How does the magnetic field protect life on Earth from radiation?

  1. Hi tibi29,
    the Earth magnetic field protects life on our planet mainly because acts as a shield to solar wind.
    The solar wind is a wind made of fast, high-energy particles that could harm life on Earth in the same way, for example, X-rays are not very good for your health, and you do them only when you really need to see “inside” your body, as when you break one bone (hopefully, never!).
    The Earth magnetic field deviates a large quantity of these particles around the Earth, preventing them to bomb us, or whatever living organisms on Earth.
    Because of your question, since I am not an expert on the Earth magnetic field, I made a quick search on some ESA (European Space Agency) websites, and I found out that was recently observed (in 2008) how the Earth magnetic field also helps in keeping our atmosphere in place. As you can imagine, this has also consequences on life on our planet, since the atmosphere is crucial to life as we know it, both for its shielding role from dangerous radiation from space (you can also see something about in this previous question about the ozone hole )
    but also for its chemical composition, on which both photosynthesis and respiration are based.
    Probably there are other aspects I am not aware of, so I am also curious to read the answers from the other scientists 🙂


  2. Hi tibi29:
    Earth’s magnetic field is strong enough to reach the space surrounding the planet. It seems that the magnetic field shields the Earth from high energy radiation that comes from the Sun. The magnetic field channels the radiation around the Earth. Where the magnetic field is thinnest, the north and south poles, these charged particles from the Sun can interact with the atmosphere and produce the northern and southern lights. The protection of the Earth from solar radiation is important because without it, the Earth may have lost most of its atmosphere.


  3. Hi Tibi29,

    Very interesting question. The magnetic field protects us from the space radiation.

    The dangerous particles do not hit the Earth’s surface because they are forces by the magnetic field to move around the Earth. On the other hand, particles, still enter at the funnels over the poles or they gain entry downstream from the Earth. The particles that enter downstream or at the magnetotail cause the auroral lights.

    The following paper provides you with some beautiful images of auroras:

    Hope it helps! 🙂



  1. thank you all !