Saturday, November 24, 2012

Super-Earths' Magnetic Fields

Key to complex life on Earth is the planet's magnetic field, which blocks deadly radiation coursing through space from reaching the surface.  That magnetic field is generated in Earth's core, and scientists have assumed it would be the same on super-Earths.

Recent research suggests otherwise.  It seems that magnesium oxide, under conditions that exist on super-Earths, becomes a liiquid metal that can support a magnetic field.  So, while current theory suggests that such huge worlds may lack dynamic cores, and therefore lack magnetic fields, it is possible for magnetic fields to be generated in the mantles of super-Earths, thus making life on such planets more plausible.

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