The Magnetic Field that made us. Ken Croswell @ScienceMagazine.

Feb 11, 03:54 AM


Computer simulation of the Earth's field in a period of normal polarity between reversals.[1] The lines represent magnetic field lines, blue when the field points towards the center and yellow when away. The rotation axis of the Earth is centered and vertical. The dense clusters of lines are within the Earth's core.[2]

View author information

Public Domain

File:Geodynamo Between Reversals.gif

Uploaded: 24 February 2007

The Magnetic Field that made us.  Ken Croswell @ScienceMagazine.

"Earth and its planetary neighbors arose in a magnetic field strong enough to sculpt the disk of gas and dust that spawned our solar system and set the stage for a planet capable of developing life. That's the implication of new work that uses a meteorite to deduce the strength of the magnetic field around the young sun.

"Planets arise in so-called protoplanetary disks, which orbit young stars but disperse after a few million years as material from the disk both falls into the star and gets pushed away. What causes this transfer of mass? Some researchers suspect magnetic forces do the job, but no one has ever measured a protoplanetary disk's magnetic intensity….

"Was the ancient magnetic field just the right strength to mold the sun's protoplanetary disk into a solar system containing a world of the right size at the right orbital distance to develop life? "I don't think we understand the processes well enough to really make that connection directly," Wilner says, "but it surely wouldn't surprise me if there were differences" in the properties of the sun's planets had the magnetic field been stronger or weaker."…