It looks like the Earth’s magnetic field is much older than previously thought. A recent study claims that the magnetic field of our planet is much older than it was previously thought. It seems that it is at least four billion years old.
The magnetic field of our planet has always been a life preserver, protecting us from streams of particles rushing in from our Sun and relentless solar winds that could have otherwise striped the Earth’s water and atmosphere away.
John Tarduno, a geophysicist at the University of Rochester said that Earth would be quite a barren planet without its magnetic field. However, there have been a lot of debates among scientists about exactly when this vital field was generated by the liquid iron core of the Earth.
On Thursday, researchers said that some evidence buried in small crystals recovered from Western Australia show that the magnetic field of our planet emerged at least 4.2 billion years in the past. This is much earlier than it was previously thought.
Previous studies had shown that the magnetic field arose around 3.5 billion years in the past, about 1 billion years after the formation of our planet. The recent study revealed that Earth was shielded by the magnetic field beginning incredibly early in its existence.
Tarduno, who led the recent research, said that the solar winds would have been a lot more intense 4 billion years in the past. Its capability of erosion was maybe 10 times higher than it is at the current time. Without this magnetic field, there would have been a devastating probability of removing the water from Earth and eroding its atmosphere.
The recent study concentrated on a mineral named magnetite which is contained inside very old zircon crystals from Jack Hills in Australia. The magnetite keeps a record of the strength of the magnetic field at the time it was trapped inside the zircon. The scientists analyzed the magnetite within the zircon crystals with measures of around one-tenth to to-tenth millimeter in size and around 3.2 to 4.2 billion years old, and have concluded that the planet had the magnetic field during the whole period.
Without this magnetic field, life couldn’t have emerged as easily on the planet.
A geologist from the University of Rochester, Rory Cottrell said that knowing about the origins and age of the magnetic field reveals the habitability conditions of the early planet.
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