Half-century-long Moon mystery potentially solved with this new model

Brown University researchers suggest a new solution to the magnetic mystery of the formation of lunar rocks collected by NASA.

@AdamHuntTT
Published Fri, Jan 14 2022 2:00 AM CST

The mystery arose from lunar rock samples collected by NASA's Apollo program and brought back to Earth.

Half-century-long Moon mystery potentially solved with this new model 01 | TweakTown.com

Analysis of the rocks brought back between 1968 and 1972 as part of the program indicate they were formed in the presence of a magnetic field of equivalent strength to that of Earth's. Researchers from Brown University have now proposed an explanation for how an object the size of the Moon could generate such a strong magnetic field.

The Moon has no magnetic field presently, but the researchers suggest in the first few billion years of the Moon's history, while its surface was more molten, large rock formations sinking through the Moon's mantle could create a kind of interior convection capable of generating strong, intermittent magnetic fields. Typically, a planetary body produces magnetic fields with strength proportional to its size via a core dynamo, the convection of molten metals in its core.

"Everything that we've thought about how magnetic fields are generated by planetary cores tells us that a body of the Moon's size should not be able to generate a field that's as strong as Earth's. But instead of thinking about how to power a strong magnetic field continuously over billions of years, maybe there's a way to get a high-intensity field intermittently. Our model shows how that can happen, and it's consistent with what we know about the Moon's interior," said Alexander Evans, an assistant professor of Earth, environmental and planetary sciences at Brown and co-author of the study with Sonia Tikoo from Stanford University.

You can read more from the study here.

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NEWS SOURCES:phys.org, doi.org

Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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