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Mercury’s iron heart

  • IASbaba
  • July 19, 2021
  • 0
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Mercury’s iron heart

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Sci & Tech

In news A study by researchers from the University of Maryland disputes the prevailing hypothesis on why Mercury has a big-sized core relative to its mantle (the layer between its core and crust).

About the new study

  • Scientists had argued that hit-and-run collisions with other bodies during the formation of our solar system resulted in much of Mercury’s rocky mantle being removed, leaving behind the big, dense, metal core inside. 
  • But new research reveals that Sun’s magnetism is the reason for this and not the collisions.
  • The researchers developed a model showing that the density, mass and iron content of a rocky planet’s core are influenced by its distance from the Sun’s magnetic field.
  • There is a gradient in which the metal content in the core drops off as the four inner planets of our solar system get further from the Sun. 
  • The current work explains this by showing that the distribution of raw materials in the early forming solar system was controlled by the Sun’s magnetic field.
  • The new model shows that during the early formation of our solar system, when the young Sun was surrounded by a swirling cloud of dust and gas, grains of iron were drawn toward the centre by the Sun’s magnetic field. 
  • When the planets began to form from clumps of that dust and gas, planets closer to the sun incorporated more iron into their cores than those further away.

News Source: TH

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