The formation of the magnetosphere is a result of the planet's magnetic field interacting with the solar wind from the sun. The magnetic field from the planet is usually caused by the moving charges within the liquids of the planet.

The effects of the solar wind on the magnetic field form the various characteristics of the magnetosphere:

Magnetopause: The outer boundary of the magnetosphere. This is what makes up the basic shape of the magnetosphere.

Bow Shock: A shock wave that is magnetosonic over which the velocity of the solar wind decreases to subsonic, while its density and temperature rise abruptly. It can be pictured like the waves that form in front of the bow of a boat as it speeds through the water.

Magnetotail: The outermost part of the magnetosphere located on the night side of the planet. The pressure from the solar wind causes the field on the night side of the planet to be blown away from the planet and makes a tail formation.

The magnetic field can take on many types and thus the magnetosphere can take on many types as well. The field of a planet usually differ by an even number of poles. There can be dipoles, quadpoles, octapoles, and even sixteen poles in a magnetic field.

The high speed coronal mass ejection from the sun actually applies a pressure on the magnetic field lines of the planet to shape the magnetic field into a bullet shape or something resembling the shape of a comet tail. If the field lines in the solar wind are opposite to the lines they encounter from the planet, the result will be cancellation, or "neutral points", on the day side of the planet. This cancellation helps to shorten the radius that the field lines extend to on the day side of the planet. The lines are blown by the solar wind and reconnect some distance behind the planet forming a longer stretched-out portion of the magnetic field on the night side of the planet.