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What if the magnetic field of the Earth disappeared?

Around the world, an invisible magnetic field, the electrons and other charged particles. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

The renewal of the Earth as an invisible spaghetti in the planet’s magnetic field. Created by the churning of the Earth’s core in this field, it is of particular importance for the daily life, The shell of the planet of the solar particles, it provides a basis for the navigation system, and it would have played an important role in the evolution of life on Earth.

But what would happen if the magnetic field of the Earth disappeared tomorrow? A larger number of charged solar particles could hit the planet, and thus the power grids, and satellites are on the fritz, and the increase of the exposure of humans to high levels of cancer-causing uv rays. In other words, a lack of magnetic field would have effects that would be problematic but not necessarily apocalyptic, at least in the short term.

And that’s good news because, for more than a century, it has been weakened. Even now, there were weak points, such as the South Atlantic Anomaly in the Southern Hemisphere, one of which is the creation of the technical problems and to provide a low-information.

Related: What Will Happen to the Earth When the Sun Dies?

The first thing to understand about the magnetic field, that is, even if it’s weak, it’s not going to go away, at least not for billions of years. The earth has a magnetic field to the molten liquid outer core, which is made mostly of iron and nickel. The younger, outer core, and is driven by the natural convection of heat that is released as the inner core grows and is solidified, said John Tarduno, a geophysicist at the University of Rochester. (The inner core grows at about one millimeter per year.

This is a magnetic-field engine, which is known as a dynamo, has been chugging along for billions of years. Scientists believe that its core set-up can be arranged at a place approximately 1.5 billion years ago, according to the 2015 survey that showed a jump in the magnetic field strength is about that. But that Tarduno and his team have found evidence of a magnetic field on the Earth, the planet’s oldest minerals, zircons, dating back to 4.2 billion years old, suggesting that the activity of the heart, it is the creation of electromagnetic fields for a very long period of time.

It is not clear why the generator started, Tarduno, told Live Science, but it is also possible that the huge global influence of the moon is perhaps the most important driver. This effect, which may be up to 100 million years after the Earth came together, it would have to be shaken up in a layer, or layers, of material at the Earth’s core, Imagine shaking a bottle of oil and water on a global scale. In this case, would have to be promoted to the convection that still drive Earth’s dynamo it is today.

In the end, the core will most likely grow up to be large enough that the convection in the outer core, it is no longer effective, and the magnetic field, it will fail. But in this case, it is so far away that it’s not worth it to lose a lot of sleep.

“We’re talking about billions of years,” Tarduno said.

The weakening of the magnetic field

Of far greater relevance to the life of a human being, that is, the magnetic field is weakening. Scientists have been measuring this attenuation directly in the magnetic observatories and from satellites for the past 160 years. If the field was changed, before that it was a little cloudy as to what it will do. The magnetic field is at the moment, about 80% of the dipole, Tarduno says. This means that it works as a bar magnet. If you would be able to put iron filings around the planet, and to remove the influence of the sun, which spews a constant stream of charged particles called the solar wind, in the direction of the Earth, the blowing up of the magnetic field, as long as its in a light breeze), and the resulting magnetic field lines, it would show a clear North-South. Only 20% of the field is not a dipole, so it’s not complicated; there may be local variations.

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In the past, the magnetic field is reversed, the switching of the North and the South. The last of these, the reversal happened 780,000 years ago, around the time of Homo erectus. The attenuation of the field is usually prefixed to this is often, questions arise about the appropriateness of a flip-flop is imminent. However, the field weakens and then strengthens again, without any reflections, a phenomenon called a field trip.

Tarduno and his team have discovered that it is a strange eddy in the core under South Africa is to make a contribution to address some of these weaknesses. This eddy appears to be the cause of the South Atlantic Anomaly, a well-known weak-spot in the area, that extends about 190 miles (300 km) south-east of Brazil, a large part of South America. In this region, charged particles from the solar wind, to dip less than usual, at the same time. The South Atlantic Anomaly, it is not very noticeable on the ground. But the Earth-orbiting satellites encounter is much more harmful solar particles, and the astronauts who traveled to the region on the International space station and reported the shooting star of visual symptoms thought to be caused by the relatively high levels of radiation at the level of the low Earth orbit it.

In a field-free Earth

Tarduno and his team suspect that the variability in the mantle below Southern Africa could have been the trigger point for the magnetic field reversals in the past. The good news is that, even if the field has been weakened, or are looking to flip it, it’s not going to disappear; there is no evidence that the magnetic field it has ever gone away completely during a turn.

Even if the field is reversed, “we have yet to see a magnetic field is present, it’s just going to be a very weak magnetic field,” Tarduno said.

So, what would this world be with a minimum of the magnetic field look like? Well, your compass wouldn’t work, for one thing. “It just has to be in the direction of the [region] has the highest magnetic field,” Tarduno said. “It is very, very close to you, it would have to be very far away from you.”

The northern and southern lights are visible from the lower latitudes, because of the colorful displays are the result of the interaction between the charged particles ejected from the sun and in the solar wind and the magnetosphere of the Earth. At this time, the auroras appear to be in the vicinity of the piles after the Earth has been mostly a North-South magnetic field lines, but with a weaker field would allow the particles to penetrate into the Earth’s atmosphere, lighting up the sky, closer to the equator.

The situation in the South-Atlantic Anomaly satellites are able to be all over the world, which would lead to technical problems. The solar particles are able to ping the electronics, and disrupt the flow of the piece from memory, in the so-called single-event upsets, or SEUs. When the solar particles interact with the low-cost of the earth’s atmosphere, called the ionosphere, they are also the electrons out of their molecular orbits. These free electrons can interfere with the transmission of high frequency radio waves used for communication.

The interaction between the solar wind and the Earth’s atmosphere, it can also break down the ozone layer, and in the course of time, Tarduno said, ” that would be the increase of mankind is, collectively, the ultraviolet radiation from the skin, thereby increasing the risk of cancer.

“While it’s not likely to be completely disastrous for the life, there would have been a much higher dose of radiation to the ground, and without a magnetic field,” said Martin Archer, a space plasma physicist at Queen Mary, University of London.

There has been very little evidence of that in the past, the magnetic field variations have affected life on Earth. Still, the magnetic field is without a doubt the shape of the surface of the earth, helping to keep the planet’s fragile atmosphere from the room is blown by the continued strength of the solar wind, However, told Live Science.

In a magnetic field, it is not essential for it to have an atmosphere, Venus has no magnetic field, and a solid, as well as of the town, and the atmosphere, but it certainly acts as an added layer of protection. Mars, which will be used to create a magnetic field but lost it about 4 billion years ago, the atmosphere is almost completely wiped out. And if there is a way to get to the moon, an Earth-like atmosphere, the solar wind, it would whittle it to nothing in a couple of centuries, as said Above.

  • Why does the Earth Have an Atmosphere?
  • What Will Happen to the Earth When the Sun Dies?
  • How does the Earth’s Age Calculated?

Originally published on Live Science.

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