Magnetism Helps To Explain The Formation Of The Earth

There are many theories about how the Earth and the Moon were formed. They have a huge impact

They vary from a model in which the impactor hits the newly formed Earth with a glancing blow and then escapes, to a model in which the collision is very energetic. Both the impactor and the ground are vaporized.

Now scientists at the University of Leeds and the University of Chicago have analyzed the dynamics of liquids and electrically conducting fluids and concluded that the Earth must have been magnetized before. They claim that this could help debunk theories about the formation of the Earth, the Moon, and inform future research into what really happened.

In the words of Professor David Hughes, an applied mathematician at the School of Mathematics at the University of Leeds, our new idea is to point out that our theoretical understanding of the Earth's magnetic field today can actually tell us something about the formation of the Earth. At first glance this seems somewhat surprising, and previous theories have not recognized this important connection. This new estimate is based on the elasticity of the Earth's magnetic field. It is said to be powered by a rotating and electrically conducting fluid in the outer core called a geodynamo

A peculiar feature of Earth's dynamo is that it can maintain a strong magnetic field but not amplify a weak one, says University of Chicago astrophysicist Professor Fausto Cataniomatlo. So the scientists concluded that if the Earth's field was switched off or reduced to a very small level it would not be capable of re-entry. It is this remarkable feature that allows us to make inferences about Earth's early history. Professor Cattaneo added that perhaps including how the moon was formed.

MagnetismProfessor Hughes added that if that is true you have to wonder where the Earth's magnetic field came from in the first place. Our hypothesis is that it returned to this peculiar state early on either as a prior impact or as an immediate result of the impact. However any realistic model for the formation of the Earth's Moon system must include magnetic field evolution.

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Materials provided by the University of Leeds.

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