Thoughts on magnetic fields and life on planets.

In summary: So the idea that a planet with multiple magnetic poles would be stable seems doubtful.In summary, I think it's possible for life to exist on a planet with multiple magnetic poles, but it would be very difficult and radiation-sensitive.
  • #1
unusually_wrong
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After reading about Jupiter's magnetic field on ScienceAlert, I remembered another article about tree bark and magnetic anomalies (links below). I also remembered an article on birds being able to see magnetic fields as well. It got me thinking of how and if life is possible on anything other than a dipolar planet.What are your thoughts on this and my apologies if this is posted in a wrong section.
https://www.sciencealert.com/jupiter-magnetic-field-asymmetrical-great-blue-spot-juno-strange-dynamo

https://science.gsfc.nasa.gov/691/cv/kletetschka/Trunks.pdf
 
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  • #2
It is true that radiation from the solar wind would be harmful to life as we know it. But non-carbon based life forms have been discussed many times on past PF threads. Lacking details, its hard to say how sensitive they might be to radiation.

It is also true that we have life on Earth at the mid-ocean vents so deep in water as to be unaffected by radiation at the surface.

So it comes down to the perpetually elusive problem, Provide an all-inclusive definition of life.
 
  • #3
I mean more of a planet with multiple magnetic poles. I wonder how anything from single cell to just plant life would be affected (not by the radiation, but the magnetic fields themselves).
 
  • #4
See https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1546763 from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_reversal

NASA_54559main_comparison1_strip.gif


That implies that Earth had multiple pole pairs at least transiently during pole reversal events. Since we are here, that is evidence that it did not wipe out life on Earth. But it does not prove that it did not have some effect.
 

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  • #5
Sure, but we're mostly a dipolar planet. I speak of planets that are multipolar.
 
  • #6
I cannot find anything on the topic. Since you insist on multipolar planets and worded your title the way you did, which says 'let us speculate', I'm moving the thread to GD. It is not science-based. We want verifiable research from journals and standard textbooks.
 
  • #7
The only article (not published) is noted here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4985-solar-wind-to-shield-earth-during-pole-flip/
This means the paper had problems, since it did not make it into publication. As far as I can tell.

The pop science article says that during pole flip ( when there are multiple poles), Most of the solar wind is still deflected.

So we do not have any real reason to consider multipole planets this way, it appears. Plus, no good publications really being the primary reason.
 
  • #8
Multiple magnetic poles while possible is an unstable condition that can't last very long.
I tried it with fridge magnets and always they collapse to something stable.
 

What is the relationship between magnetic fields and life on planets?

Magnetic fields play a crucial role in protecting planets from harmful solar radiation, which can be damaging to life forms. Without a strong magnetic field, a planet's atmosphere and surface would be bombarded with charged particles from the sun.

Can a planet without a magnetic field support life?

It is possible for a planet without a strong magnetic field to support life, but it would require other factors such as a thick atmosphere or a strong ozone layer to protect against solar radiation. However, a magnetic field greatly increases the chances of a planet being habitable.

How do magnetic fields form on planets?

Magnetic fields on planets are mainly generated by the movement of molten iron in the planet's core. This creates an electric current, which in turn generates a magnetic field. The size and strength of the magnetic field depend on the size and composition of the planet's core.

Do all planets have magnetic fields?

No, not all planets have magnetic fields. Smaller planets, such as Mars and Mercury, have weak or non-existent magnetic fields. This is because they have smaller cores and less molten material to generate a strong magnetic field. Gas giants, like Jupiter, have much stronger magnetic fields due to their large size and composition of materials in their core.

How do magnetic fields affect life forms on a planet?

Magnetic fields can have a significant impact on the behavior and navigation of certain species on a planet. Birds and sea turtles, for example, have been shown to use Earth's magnetic field for navigation during migration. Some studies have also suggested that magnetic fields may play a role in the development and behavior of certain animals.

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