Evidence for lunar tide effects in Earth’s plasmasphere

Chao Xiao, Fei He, Quanqi Shi*, Wenlong Liu, Anmin Tian, Ruilong Guo, Chao Yue, Xuzhi Zhou, Yong Wei, I. Jonathan Rae, Alexander W. Degeling, Vassilis Angelopoulos, Emmanuel V. Masongsong, Ji Liu, Qiugang Zong, Suiyan Fu, Zuyin Pu, Xiaoxin Zhang, Tieyan Wang, Huizi WangZhao Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Tides are universal and affect spatially distributed systems, ranging from planetary to galactic scales. In the Earth–Moon system, effects caused by lunar tides were reported in the Earth’s crust, oceans, neutral gas-dominated atmosphere (including the ionosphere) and near-ground geomagnetic field. However, whether a lunar tide effect exists in the plasma-dominated regions has not been explored yet. Here we show evidence of a lunar tide-induced signal in the plasmasphere, the inner region of the magnetosphere, which is filled with cold plasma. We obtain these results by analysing variations in the plasmasphere’s boundary location over the past four decades from multisatellite observations. The signal possesses distinct diurnal (and monthly) periodicities, which are different from the semidiurnal (and semimonthly) variations dominant in the previously observed lunar tide effects in other regions. These results demonstrate the importance of lunar tidal effects in plasma-dominated regions, influencing understanding of the coupling between the Moon, atmosphere and magnetosphere system through gravity and electromagnetic forces. Furthermore, these findings may have implications for tidal interactions in other two-body celestial systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-491
Number of pages16
JournalNature Physics
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


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