(Mirror Daily, United States) – When a planetary body contains a molten core, the different levels of it can rotate in various directions. This the process that generates a magnetic field, one of the key protectors for the development of life. After examining several Moon rock samples, scientists now believe that the magnetic field of the Moon may well have lasted at least 1 billion years more than previously thought.
The Longer Lasting Magnetic Field of the Moon and its Implications
The alternating spin is a form of dynamo, and the heavy, conducting metals in a planet’s core create a magnetic field when they turn as such. Those magnetic fields protect the planetary surface from exotic radiation emitted by its Sun. It is considered absolutely necessary to conditions that might generate life, as that radiation can be extremely damaging to biological processes.
Figuring out that the magnetic field of the Moon, which is a relatively small planetary body, lasted up to 1 billion years more than once believed has important implications in the search for life outside our solar system. If these planetary dynamos are more prevalent and durable than we thought, then the possibilities of finding planets with the necessary cosmic shield may improve as well.
The research team studied a rock that was returned by Apollo 15 astronauts in the 1970’s. This sample was dated and is estimated to be around 1 to 2.5 billion years old. It appears to have formed in the presence of a magnetic field of around five microteslas. While that is only one tenth the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, it is around a thousand times the power of magnetic fields in deep space.
“The concept of a planetary magnetic field produced by moving liquid metal is an idea that is really only a few decades old,” says study co-author Benjamin Weiss of MIT. “We can figure this out by knowing the lifetime of the lunar dynamo.”
A research paper with the results was published in the journal Science Advances.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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