The Inner Workings of the Magnetic Field

The very existence of life would not be sustained without the magnetic field of our home planet. The purpose of the field in the context of life on Earth is deflecting ionizing particles from the solar wind, which are highly dangerous, and some cosmic rays that come from afar.

How Does the Magnetic Field Work?

The magnetic field of our planet is generated at a constant rate by the movement of liquid iron in the outer core of our planet. This movement is known as the geodynamo. Although it has been established that the geodynamo is essential, scientists still do not know where it comes from and how it works, sustaining itself over millennia.

Some new research has been performed by a team of scientists coming from all around the globe, such as Sergey Lobanov, Alexander Goncharov, Irina Chuvashova and Nicholas Holtgrewe. These have looked into the presence of some lighter elements into the outer core, which is mostly iron. Their results have been published in the academic journal Nature Communications.

How Does this Relate to Our Planet?

Essentially, our planet is made from a disk of dust and gas, the same dust and gas that surrounded the Sun back when it was a young star. At some point, the densest material out of that dust moved towards the interior in the planet that was forming.

The core, which was mostly iron, is now found to also contain some elements such as silicon, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and sulfur. These are all thought to have been dissolved during the differentiation process.

As the time passed by, the inner core gained a crystal structure. It has been continuously cooling ever since. The question that arises is if heat that flows from the core towards the mantle is able to cause the geodynamo. Well, it seems that, from the preliminary results of the research performed by the aforementioned scientists, the answer is yes.