Earth's ring current
Earth's ring current is responsible for shielding the lower latitudes of the Earth from magnetospheric electric fields. It therefore has a large effect on the electrodynamics of geomagnetic storms. The ring current system consists of a band, at a distance of 3 to 5 RE, which lies in the equatorial plane and circulates clockwise around the Earth (when viewed from the north). The particles of this region produce a magnetic field in opposition to the Earth's magnetic field and so an Earthly observer would observe a decrease in the magnetic field in this area.:135
The ring current energy is mainly carried around by the ions, most of which are protons. However, one also sees alpha particles in the ring current, a type of ion that is plentiful in the solar wind. In addition, a certain percentage are O+ oxygen ions, similar to those in the ionosphere of Earth, though much more energetic. This mixture of ions suggests that ring current particles probably come from more than one source.