Sunday, April 2, 2023

How did Earth become a habitable planet?

Earth is a separate planet, which means it is made up of layers – the crust, mantle, outer core, inner core. Of these layers, the outer core is a significant contributor because it contains molten iron that helps the planet generate its own protective magnetic field. This magnetic field helps protect the Earth from harmful radiation from the Sun and the solar wind.

A new study by University of Rochester researchers has deepened the understanding of the magnetic field caused by this core, which in turn could help Earth prevent a Mars-like fate.

About 565 million years ago, there was a drastic decrease in the strength of the magnetic field. Scientists have described this decline as 10 percent of what is happening now. This makes the planet more vulnerable to the solar wind. Fortunately, though, just before the Cambrian explosion of multicellular life, a mysterious surge restores power. This growth helped shape the planet we see today.

The study, published in Nature Communications, sheds light on several key dates in Earth’s original history that determined Earth’s evolution from an uninhabited planetary body to a habitable place in the universe. This evolution plays a major role in the core of the Earth.

“The inner core is very important. Just before the inner core grows, the magnetic field is on the verge of collapse, but as the inner core begins to grow, the field rejuvenates,” says John, dean of research in arts, science and engineering. Tarduno explains. ,

Research focuses on minerals and crystals that grow on the Earth’s surface. Tarduno and his team used a carbon dioxide laser and a device called a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID), which Tarduno calls the “perfect magnetic recorder,” to study the magnets trapped in these ancient crystals.

The study found that 550 million years ago, the magnetic field nearly collapsed, but the dense inner core recharged and helped to replenish the magnetic field strength generated by the outer core. “The movement of tectonic plates on Earth’s surface indirectly affects the inner core, and the history of this movement is inscribed deep within Earth in the structure of the inner core,” Tarduno said.

Researchers believe that Mars has a magnetic field strong enough for life, but the loss of strength has made Mars a dry and uninhabited planet today. This study will further pave the way for designing mechanisms to conserve Earth’s magnetic field.

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