Jupiter has 3 Magnetic Fields
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has discovered something extraordinary about Jupiter. There is an extra magnetic pole near the giant planet’s equator, dubbed “The Great Blue Spot” by researchers who identified it.
When NASA’s Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter in 2016, planetary scientists were eager to learn more about the giant planet’s magnetic field. Juno would fly over both of Jupiter’s poles, skimming just 4000 km above the cloudtops for measurements at point-blank range. Today in the journal Nature, a team of researchers led by Kimberly Moore of Harvard University announced new results from Juno–and they are weird. Among the findings: Jupiter has an extra magnetic pole.
We find that Jupiter’s magnetic field is different from all other known planetary magnetic fieldsThe researchers wrote in the introduction to their paper.
In theirNaturearticle, the scientists consider the possibility that we are catching Jupiter in the middle of a magnetic reversal–an unsettled situation with temporary poles popping up in strange places.
However, they favor the idea that Jupiter’s inner magnetic dynamo is simply unlike that of other planets. Deep within Jupiter, they posit, liquid metallic hydrogen mixes with partially dissolved rock and ice to create strange electrical currents, giving rise to an equally strange magnetic field.
More clues could be in the offing as Juno continues to orbit Jupiter until 2021. Changes to Jupiter’s magnetic structure, for instance, might reveal that a reversal is underway or, conversely, that the extra pole is stable.
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