Beacon Transcript – A molten iron jet stream was discovered in the outer core of our planet thanks to the Swarm ESA weather satellites.
Jet streams in the Earth’s atmosphere are not news. Scientists have known that they exist for a while now. However, the ESA Swarm weather satellites have detected a new one. Not only is it a molten iron jet stream, it is also very deep.
A team of scientists has already been studying the unexpected phenomenon. Research results were released earlier this week. The study was published in the Nature Geoscience journal.
It was published on December 19 under the following name. “An accelerating high-latitude jet in Earth’s core”. Research was led by Phil Livermore. He is a University of Leeds professor part of the School of Earth and Environment.
The team of scientists went to explain. This molten iron jet stream is different from the other such formations. Atmospheric jet streams are created by a combination of facts. One is the Earth’s rotation.
The other is the solar radiation that warms its air. As such, these led to the creation of fast-moving winds bands.
Earth’s latest jet is different. It is located in our planet’s molten iron core. The iron jet was noticed to be circling the Northern hemisphere.
It is believed to have a westward direction. Its traveling speed could reach more than 25 miles per year. The iron jet stream was detected thanks to a series of changes.
These were detected at the level of our planet’s magnetic field. ESA Swarm satellites were behind the discovery. ESA or the European Space Agency sent the Swarm on a special mission.
Such a satellite would study the terrestrial magnetic field. It would so through high-definition and high-resolution measurements. Earth’s magnetic field is generated by molten iron.
This is believed to swirl around a solid, but smaller outer core. Such a process is believed to be behind the self-sustaining geomagnetic dynamo.
Outer core liquid iron motions are determined by the inner core. They are driven by the continuous inner heat loss.
Magnetic field changes signal these swift changes. They are a direct consequence of the behavior of the outer core molten iron swirls.
The ESA Swarm satellites have proven very useful. They have been offering the as yet sharpest images of the core. ESA’s Swarm mission was launched in 2013.
Since then, it has been offering these sharp X-ray images data. The core’s remote location does not offer many study methods. It is situated under about 1,860 miles of rock.
Swarm images offered the first clear shot of the iron jet stream. They also helped explained why it is there.
Livermore, the aforementioned lead, went to offer details. According to him, the iron jet stream can be characterized as follows. It is an “accelerating band of molten iron”. Its behavior is similar to that of atmospheric jet streams.
The molten iron band was observed to be circling the North Pole. Its width is estimated to surpass a 260 miles value. It is located in a region in which the solid mantle meets the molten outer core.
Researchers believe its location might also explain its origin. The jet stream could be because by the molten iron’s motion. This was noticed to be moving the boundary of two different core regions.
It then aligns with the planet’s axis of rotation. As it does so, its squeezed sideways, from both sides. This could result in the fast-moving iron jet stream.
Further studies revealed that the jet is accelerating. However, the cause behind this has yet to be explained.
Rune Floberghagen, the Swarm mission manager, also released some comments. Floberghagen stated that further surprises are to be expected. Earth’s magnetic field is in a constant change.
This fact might even determine a direction change in the iron jet stream.
Image Source: Wikimedia