Saturday, February 4, 2023

How did the Earth’s interior remain as hot as the Sun’s surface for billions of years?

Our Earth is structured like an onion: it’s layer after layer.

Starting from the top down, there’s the crust, which comprises the surface you walk on; then, below, the mantle, mostly solid rock; then, even deeper, the outer core, made of liquid iron; And finally, the inner core, made of solid iron and whose radius is 70% that of the Moon. The deeper you dive, the hotter it gets: parts of the core are just as hot as the surface Fifth note of musical scale,

View Of A Satellite Image Provided By Nasa And The Us National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration.  Ef

View of a satellite image provided by NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. EF

journey to the center of the earth

“As a professor of Earth and planetary sciences, I study the interior of our world. Just as a doctor might use a technique called ultrasound to image the internal structures of your body with ultrasound waves, Scientists use a similar technique to image Earth’s internal structures. But instead of ultrasound, geologists use seismic waves, sound waves generated by earthquakes,” says Shichun Huang, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of Tennessee. Huh.

On the surface of the earth, it is seen shit, sand, grass and pavement of course. Seismic vibrations reveal what’s beneath: rocks, large and small. It is all part of the crust, which can go down to 20 miles (30 kilometers); It floats on top of a layer called the mantle.

The upper part of the mantle normally moves along with the crust. together they are called lithosphereIt has an average thickness of about 60 miles (100 kilometers), although it can be thicker in places.

The lithosphere is divided into several large blocks called plates, For example, the Pacific Plate lies beneath the entire Pacific Ocean, and the North American Plate covers most of North America. Plates are like puzzle pieces that roughly fit together and cover the Earth’s surface.

The plates are not stationary; instead, it Shake, Sometimes it is the tiniest fraction of an inch over a period of years. Other times, there is more movement and it is more sudden. This type of movement triggers earthquake and volcanic eruptions.

In addition, plate movement is an important, and possibly essential, factor driving the evolution of life on Earth, as moving plates alter the environment and force life to adapt to new conditions.

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heater is on

The movement of the plates requires a hot mantle. And in fact, as you go deeper into the Earth, the temperature Growth,

At the bottom of the plates, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) below, the temperature is about 2,400 °F (1,300 °C).

By the time you reach the boundary between the mantle and the outer core, which is 2,900 kilometers (1,800 mi) down, Temperature This is around 2700 C (5000 F).

Then, at the boundary between the outer and inner cores, the temperature doubles to about 10,800 F (over 6,000 C). this is the part that is as hot as surface From the Sun At that temperature, practically everything (metal, diamond, humans) vaporizes into a gas. But because the core is under such high pressure inside the planet, the iron that made it up remains. liquid hey concrete,

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collision in outer space

Where does so much heat come from?

It is not from the Sun. While it warms us and all the plants and animals on Earth’s surface, sunlight cannot penetrate for miles into the planet’s interior.

Instead there are two sources. One is the heat that the Earth inherited during its formation 4.5 billion years ago. Earth was formed from the Solar Nebula, a giant gaseous cloud that was in the midst of endless collisions and fusion between pieces of rock and debris. Planetesimals, This process took millions of years.

An immense amount of heat was generated during those collisions, which was enough to melt the entire Earth. Although some of that heat was lost to space, the rest was saved. closed Inside the Earth, where most of it remains today.

Another source of heat: decay of radioactive isotopes distributed everywhere on Earth.

To understand this, first imagine an element as a family with isotopes as members. Each atom of a given element has the same number of protons, but different isotopic cousins ​​have different numbers of neutrons.

loss radioactive isotope They are not stable. They release a constant flow of energy which is converted into heat. Potassium-40, Thorium-232, Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 are the four radioactive isotopes that keep the Earth’s interior warm.

Some of those names may sound familiar to you. Uranium-235, for example, is used as fuel in nuclear power plants. Earth is in no danger of running out of these heat sources: although most of the original uranium-235 and potassium-40 have been depleted, there is enough thorium-232 and uranium-238 to last for billions of years.

Along with the hot core and mantle, these energy-releasing isotopes provide Heat To drive the movement of the plates.

no heat, no plate motion, no life

Even now, moving plates continue to change Earth’s surface, continuously creating new land and new oceans over millions and billions of years. The plates also affect the atmosphere on a similar time scale.

But without the Earth’s internal heat, the plates would not move. The earth must have cooled down. Our world would probably be uninhabitable. you would not be here

Think about it the next time you feel the earth beneath your feet.

Original article published by The Conversation

on this note

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