earth's magnetic field

Did you know the earth has a second magnetic field? Its oceans

Did you know the earth has a second magnetic field? Its oceans

Earth’s magnetic field is one of the most mysterious features of our planet. It is also essential to life as we know it, ensuring that our atmosphere is not stripped away by solar wind and shielding life on Earth from harmful radiation. For some time, scientists have theorized that it is the result of a dynamo action in our core, where the liquid outer core revolves around the solid inner core and in the opposite direction of the Earth’s rotation.

Mysterious ‘geomagnetic spike’ 3,000 years ago challenges our understanding of the Earth’s interior

Mysterious ‘geomagnetic spike’ 3,000 years ago challenges our understanding of the Earth’s interior

The Earth’s magnetic field, generated some 3,000km below our feet in the liquid iron core, threads through the whole planet and far into space – protecting life and satellites from harmful radiation from the sun. But this shielding effect is far from constant, as the field strength varies significantly in both space and time.

A giant lava lamp inside the Earth might be flipping the planet’s magnetic field

A giant lava lamp inside the Earth might be flipping the planet’s magnetic field

If you could travel back in time 41,000 years to the last ice age, your compass would point south instead of north. That’s because for a period of a few hundred years, the Earth’s magnetic field was reversed. These reversals have happpened repeatedly over the planet’s history, sometimes lasting hundreds of thousands of years. We know this from the way it affects the formation of magnetic minerals, that we can now study on the Earth’s surface.

This is actual science. Crystals at the earth's core power its magnetic field

This is actual science. Crystals at the earth's core power its magnetic field

Whether or not a planet has a magnetic field goes a long way towards determining whether or not it is habitable. Whereas Earth has a strong magnetosphere that protects life from harmful radiation and keeps solar wind from stripping away its atmosphere, planet’s like Mars no longer do. Hence why it went from being a world with a thicker atmosphere and liquid water on its surface to the cold, desiccated place it is today.

Does an anomaly in the Earth’s magnetic field portend a coming pole reversal?

Does an anomaly in the Earth’s magnetic field portend a coming pole reversal?

The Earth is blanketed by a magnetic field. It’s what makes compasses point north, and protects our atmosphere from continual bombardment from space by charged particles such as protons. Without a magnetic field, our atmosphere would slowly be stripped away by harmful radiation, and life would almost certainly not exist as it does today.

Why the Earth’s magnetic poles could be about to swap places – and how it would affect us

Why the Earth’s magnetic poles could be about to swap places – and how it would affect us

The Earth’s magnetic field surrounds our planet like an invisible force field – protecting life from harmful solar radiation by deflecting charged particles away. Far from being constant, this field is continuously changing. Indeed, our planet’s history includes at least several hundred global magnetic reversals, where north and south magnetic poles swap places. So when’s the next one happening and how will it affect life on Earth?

'Space Tsunami' Causes the Third Van Allen Belt

'Space Tsunami' Causes the Third Van Allen Belt

Earth's magnetosphere, the region of space dominated by Earth's magnetic field, protects our planet from the harsh battering of the solar wind. Like a protective shield, the magnetosphere absorbs and deflects plasma from the solar wind which originates from the Sun. 

How we discovered that the Earth’s inner core is older than previously thought

How we discovered that the Earth’s inner core is older than previously thought

According to recent estimates, the Earth’s solid inner core started forming between half a billion and one billion years ago. However, our new measurements of ancient rocks as they cool from magma have indicated that it may actually have started forming more than half a billion years earlier.