According to the findings of a new study, Earth’s solid metal core may no longer rotate relative to the surrounding planet’s massive mass thanks to what appears to be a recent slowdown.
At the heart of our planet lies a huge ball of solid metal 2,400 kilometers wide, surrounded by an outer core of superheated liquid iron and other materials.
This liquid barrier separates the solid inner core from the massive mass of the surrounding Earth, allowing it to rotate independently. Scientists have long believed that the central core rotates faster than the outer mantle and crust of our planet.
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This phenomenon, known as superspin, is thought to be partly responsible for generating Earth’s protective magnetic field, and may have an impact on ocean temperatures and the length of each day.
However, according to new research published in the journal Natural Earth SciencesAnd Kernel speed may have slowed significantly in recent decades.
In the last study – Reported by Vice – A team of scientists analyzed data from seismic waves generated by powerful earthquakes that passed through our planet’s crust, interacting with the inner and outer core. These earthquakes occurred mostly between 1995 and 2021 in locations scattered around the world.
Some geologists believe that the rotation of the central core affects the amount of time it takes for seismic waves to travel across the planet, and that by tracking changes in the speed of waves that occur near each other, they are able to. To measure the rotational speed of the Earth’s core. Previous studies have used this technique to estimate that the massive metallic sphere used to rotate about one-tenth of a degree faster than the surrounding mantle each year.
However, according to the findings of the new study, Earth’s core may now have stopped rotating relative to the rest of the planet. According to the seismic data, the change may have already occurred since 2009, and the core may now be on the verge of a ‘period’ shift.subrotationas it will rotate more slowly than the rest of the world.
“There are two major forces operating on the inner core,” study authors Yi Yang and Xiaodong Song of Peking University told Motherboard. “One is the electromagnetic force. The Earth’s magnetic field is generated by the motion of fluids in the outer core. The magnetic field acting on the metallic inner core is expected to drive the inner core to rotate via electromagnetic coupling.
“The other is the gravitational force. The mantle and the inner core are both highly inhomogeneous, so the gravity between their structures tends to pull the inner core into a position of gravitational equilibrium, which is called gravitational coupling.”
According to the researchers, imbalances in the two forces can either speed up or slow down the nucleus. To their surprise, the pair also discovered that the core also appears to have stopped rotating independently of the mantle in the early 1970s, suggesting that its rotation may change naturally in a repeating 70-year cycle.
It should be noted, however, that not all scientists agree that the core rotates faster than the rest of the Earth, and instead suggest that deviations in the travel time of seismic waves could instead result from changes to the surface of the vast metallic core.
Yang and Song are now waiting for more earthquakes to send seismic waves through the core in order to further test their theory. NASA also plans to launch a mission to explore what might be the exposed metallic core of an ancient shattered planet, which could shed light on the inner workings of Earth and the other worlds that populate our solar system.
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Anthony is a freelance contributor covering science and video game news for IGN. He has more than eight years of experience covering breaking developments in multiple scientific fields and there is absolutely no time to fool you. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer
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