Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Secrets of Mercury's Core

Today at the 40th Lunar & Planetary Science Conference in the Woodlands, Texas: We saw new data from the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. No spacecraft has flown by the innermost planet since Mariner 10 in 1974. Surprisingly Mariner discovered that tiny Mercury has a strong magnetic field. On its way to orbit the planet, MESSENGER has already made two flybys that have vastly increased our knowledge of the planet.

Analyzing the data, scientists have found that Mercury's field is concentrated in the core, with virtually no crustal magnetic field. This is not surprinsing, since the surface so far appears devoid of magnetic minerals. How tiny Mercury maintains a magnetic field has been a mystery for 38 years. If Mercury's core had formed around a tiny singularity, the planet's centre would be a hot cavity of charged plasma. This would generate heat that would reach the surface as vulcanism. If the Black Hole rotated, spinning plasma would create a magnetic field concentrated at the core. Mercury's centre would be an excellent place to find a Black Hole.

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5 Comments:

Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Louise, I just noticed this gravity essay prize competition and figure on typing something up having to do with my graviton flux theory of gravity. (But it will be a lot less radical than that sounds. It's mostly GR calculations in various choices of coordinates for the black hole.)

Unfortunately, I just found this a few minutes ago and submissions have to arrive before April 1, 2009. This is not very much time, but fortunately I have something already mostly typed up.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Bjoern said...

What would keep a Black Hole in Mercury's core from swallowing the whole of Mercury (given enough time)?

5:06 AM  
Blogger Kea said...

Great to hear you're keeping up with these lines of evidence against the Dark Force.

I tried to find a cosmology seminar to go to here at Oxford, but there doesn't seem to be one, and I haven't even been into the Theoretical Physics department (that annoying string seminar was in another building) despite the fact that it's only a one minute walk from my office.

7:39 AM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Bjoern,

Small mass black holes are very very wee in size and eat very small amounts of matter. But they give off lots of heat. "Enough time" would be way longer than the universe has existed.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Bjoern said...

My last comment didn't appear, so I'll try again...
What mass is actually proposed for this hypothetical Black Hole in Mercury's core? How is its accretion rate calculated? How is Hawking radiation taken into account?

In short: Is there anywhere a *quantitative* account of Miss Riofrio's ideas?

11:43 PM  

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