Mercury’s Magnetic Field Raises Interest Of Researchers

As more time goes on, we are learning more and more about the world around us. Take Mercury, for instance, one of NASA’s favorite subjects. We know it is small, hot and filled with craters. It also has a magnetic field that is significant to the planet. Mercury’s magnetic field is not as strong as Earth’s, but it has its own magnetosphere. Currently, scientists are puzzled by the age of rocks on its surface, which does not match up with the timeline of the creation of a magnetic field.

Mercury‘s magnetic field has a dipole, which just means it has two magnetic poles. The Mariner 10 spacecraft initially measured Mercury’s magnetic field strength as 1.1% of Earth’s. The origin of Mercury’s magnetic field is best explained by the dynamo theory.

The Dynamo Theory
The Dynamo Theory is a mechanism in physics that describes a magnetic field process. A mechanism that can generate a magnetic field, like a star or Earth, is rotating, convecting and electrically conducting with a fluid that maintains that magnetic field. A dynamo is understood to be the source of the Earth’s magnetic field. It also contributes to the magnetic fields of other planets, such as Mercury.

Mercury’s magnetic field is strong. In fact, it is so strong that it actually slows down the solar winds, creating a magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is the area of space that is near the planet where charged particles are controlled. Take Earth, for example. Earth’s magnetosphere is usually referred to the outermost layer of the ionosphere. Some people believe the ionosphere and the magnetosphere are separate.

Scientists Speculate on Creation of Magnetic Field
Mercury’s magnetic field is weaker than Earth’s, but still strong enough to deflect solar winds, thus creating that magnetosphere. Scientists have also revealed that it is also weaker than that of Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede. This may be because Mercury has actually cooled its core and solidified.

Mercury’s magnetic field could have potentially changed between the time the Mariner 10 first explored it versus when the Messenger did. This is still uncertain, though. The lack of agreement between the Mariner 10 and the Messenger may be due to limitations of the spatial distribution and its own observations.

Now, the Hubbard is exploring Mercury. Actually, many of our astrophysical objects do in fact generate strong magnetic fields. Magnetic fields can be difficult to analyze due to the mathematical equations that are involved. Mercury is capable of having a magnetic field because its temperatures are high enough. It can ionize metals such as potassium and sodium and its already been said that these magnetic fields slow down atmospheric circulation. A lot of Mercury still remains a mystery, but we are slowly getting closer and closer to unveiling it.