Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Do all planets have magnetospheres?

  1. May 30, 2010 #1
    do all planets have magnetospheres?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2010 #2
    I'm not totally sure about this but I think mars doesn't or if it does its very small compaired to the earths.
  4. May 30, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

  5. May 30, 2010 #4
    Specifically what causes and why the planetary magnetic spheres are different is an interesting subject. As the field has advanced and new observational data has become available the number of anomalies has increased not decreased.

    The hypothesized magnetic dynamo mechanism requires a conductive fluid that is in convection motion. What starts the magnetic dynamo is not clear and is not specified. (i.e. Vigorous stirring of a conductive fluid does not create a magnetic field.) An initial magnetic field is required to kick start the mechanism that then grows stronger as there is hypothesized to be a balance between the counter acting electromagnetic force/energy with the energy of the convection motion. Experiments with a laboratory apparatus that used liquid sodium to model the earth where not able to generate a magnetic dynamo. That experiment used a strong electromagnetic to try to kick start the dynamo and a heating element to create the differential as well as a rotating sphere and pumps to enhance the convection circulation.

    To drive heat convection the planet's core must lose heat to create a differential. (i.e. The core must be liquid and must be cooling.) The temperature loss from the earth's liquid core to the surface is not sufficient to drive the earth's dynamo. The theory is that the heat loss when the liquid core solidifies creates the necessary heat differential. The problem with that theory is that the earth's solid core is believed to be at most a 1 billion years old and the earth's magnetic field is known to have existed for at least 3.5 billion years. There is no current solution to the differential heat source problem for the earth.

    The earth's magnetic field protects the planet's water from being removed by the solar wind. The lack of magnetic field is believed to be the reason why Mars does not have any significant water.


    Last edited: May 30, 2010
  6. May 30, 2010 #5
    Uranus and Neptune's magnetic field.

    It was once believed that the planet's magnetic field would be aligned with the planet's rotational axis.

    As noted below the data from Voyager showed that is not the case for both Uranus and Neptune. The Voyager data showed that both Neptune and Uranus's magnetic field were strongly offset from the planet's rotational axis and just as curiously were offset from the planet's center.

    Last edited: May 30, 2010
  7. May 30, 2010 #6
    This is the paper that discusses the heat flux paradox for the earth. (i.e. The earth's solid core is believed to be at most 1 billion years old. The latent heat of crystallization is required to create the necessary heat flux to drive convection in the earth's core. The paradox is the geomagnetic field is known to have been in place and continuous for at least 3.5 billion years. Prior to the core crystallizing there is no known mechanism to create the necessary heat flux differential to drive the geomagnetic dynamo mechanism.)


    This is a different observational challenge for the dynamo mechanism. Paleomagnetic research has shown that in the last few million years the geomagnetic field intensity has dropped in intensity by a factor of 5 to 10 for roughly 20% of the time. The geomagnetic field direction abruptly changes direction during these magnetic excursions.


Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook