Movies and Images

There are many pictures of the van Allen Belts that you can find on the Web. Many of them are pretty tired looking, and in some cases incorrect. They also don't have captions to tell you what you are looking at!

Here is a collection of what the web has to offer as of October 2003, plus a whole new suite of images and figures from our research program! Comments are offered to critique the drawings in terms of their technical accuracy. Nearly all of the currently fashionable renditions of the Belts have problems in one way or another. The renderings we provide are more accurate than what you will generally find elsewhere on the Web.

Pictures and Drawings:

right arrow   vanallen2 thumbnail (36 kb) From the University of Oregon This drawing shows the Earth, and its magnetic field lines (dotted) with the two van Allen Belts drawn as nested donuts with a cut-away to show the Inner and Outer Belts. The thickness of the Belts is actually smaller than their true extent.

right arrow  vanallen3_thumbnail (23 kb) From Los Alamos National Laboratory This rendering shows the Inner (green) and Outer (purple) Belts, but the sizes of these belts are closer to their real dimensions.

right arrow  vanallen4_thumbnail (9 kb) From Dr. Holbert's ASU Course The scale for this figure is about right, but it shows the South Atlantic Anomaly as a 'pimple' on the inside of the Inner Belt. This is incorrect.

right arrow  va7 thumbnail image (112 kb) From the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Radiation Effects Branch This colorized drawing gets the Inner (Blue) and Outer (Purple) Belts correct in size and shape. The problem is that the magnetic field looks like it is aligned with the rotation axis of Earth. This is incorrect. The magnetic field is tilted about 11 degrees and the van Allen Belts are symmetric around the magnetic axis not the rotation axis.

right arrow  vanallen5 thumbnail (52 kb) From the University of Michigan This is a plot of the radiation dosages to silicon (a common electronic circuit material) based on actual CRRES satellite data extrapolated to fill-in missing data regions. You can easily see the Inner and Outer Belts in the intensity of the actual data!

right arrow  vanallen6_thumbnail image (17kb) From the Online Dictionary This is an odd figure that shows Earth surrounded by its distorted magnetic field (outer blue and lavender colors). Inside, you see what is probably supposed to be the Outer Belt (blue) and Inner Belt (aqua). In fact, these cannot be the Belts at all because on the right-hand side of Earth the inner edge of the Inner Belt is tangent to Earth's equator!


The following files are very large, in most cases several megabytes in size. We have tried to simplify and e-format them so that you don't have to wait forever to have them download on a typical 56kbaud modem.

right arrow  (Mpeg, 462kb)
When Earth's magnetic field is disturbed by a solar storm event, many changes occur which lead to complex rearrangements of earth's magnetosphere, and the particles that flow within it. This computer model was calculated for one such 'magnetospheric substorm' to show the complexity of these rearrangements. The lines are a few of the magnetic field lines from earth. The density of the trapped plasma (charged particles) is also shown in colors that denote large and small values.

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As the magnetic field of Earth undergoes a storm, trapped particles flow in specific ways as magnetic fields compress and energize them. This computer model shows how protons (the nuclei of hydrogen atoms) flow within a radiation belt during a magnetic substorm. The lines are the magnetic field lines of earth, and the balls represent a few of the trillions of protons which are flowing in the various belts and currents. The colors represent the different energies carried by the protons.

right arrow  (Mpeg, 2MB)
At the same time the protons are flowing around Earth and being energized by magnetic forces, electrons are also flowing in similar regions of space. This computer model shows many similarities and differences between the electron belts and the proton belts. As before, The colors represent the various energies of the electrons while the lines represent the calculated locations of Earth's magnetic field.

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