The Wikipedia states on the page about the Interplanetary magnetic field that

The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), now more commonly referred to as the heliospheric magnetic field, is the component of the solar magnetic field that is dragged out from the solar corona by the solar wind flow to fill the Solar System.

My question is, does this IMF interact with the planets' individual magnetic fields in our solar system? All the planets except Venus and Mars in our solar system have their own magnetic field. So on a logical basis, we will expect the interplanetary magnetic field to interact with the planet's magnetic field. What is the effect of this interaction? Another question - for planets like Venus and Mars, who do not have their own magnetic field, how the interplanetary magnetic field affect these planets ?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you clarify "interaction" ? The total magnetic field at a given location {x,y,z} depends on the sum of all field sources. The interaction between this field and a physical object thus depends on the sum of all sources $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2022 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ By the word interaction, I mean the interaction of two magnetic fields; one is the interplanetary magnetic field and the other planet's magnetic field. $\endgroup$
    – apk
    Aug 2, 2022 at 5:11
  • $\begingroup$ I am looking for some references through which I can understand how these two magnetic fields interact. I am also looking for references to understand the effect of the interplanetary magnetic field on the planet Venus because venus does not possess any magnetic field of its own. $\endgroup$
    – apk
    Aug 2, 2022 at 5:14

1 Answer 1


Does interplanetary magnetic field interact with the planet's own magnetic field?

Not really, no.

Usually in magnetostatic contexts like this there will be considered to only be one magnetic field.

Far from individual planets you can have a weak "interplanetary field", close to planets with significant (stronger) fields the planet's field dominates.

But rather than think of them interacting, use linear superposition and simply add them together.

The result may look complicated and the field lines drawn for illustrations give the impression there are two fields interacting, but from a physics and math perspective the two vector fields are just added together.

However there are other "interactions" to worry about. The interplanetary field comes from the Sun and the solar wind, and a planet blocks that wind and perturbs its flow nearby.

That's why Mars can have a significant magnetosphere even though it doesn't have a significant planetary magnetic field.

While you might want to call this the planet's interaction with the interplanetary field, it's really interacting with and diverting the solar wind.

For more on this refer to:


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