Study Claims That Earth-Like Planets Around Stars Have Magnetic Field And They Can Protect Life

Posted: Sep 30 2015, 6:52am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 30 2015, 9:56pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Study Claims that Earth-Like Planets Around Stars Have Magnetic Field And They Can Protect Life

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The magnetic fields serve as a shield and protect exoplanets from stellar radiations.

A new research suggests that Earth-like planets might have magnetic fields that serve as a protective shield and deflect the radiations emitting from the stars close to them.

The magnetic field also helps maintain such kind of atmosphere which can lead to the onset of life.

Low-mass stars are very common in our universe. Previously, it was assumed that many exoplanets are tidally locked to the low mass stars similar to the way our planet Earth is tidally locked to Moon. It was also thought that these planets don’t have any protective magnetic fields and are completely at the mercy of the stars.

But a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington is rejecting this notion. It suggests that the gravitational pull from the stars create tidal heating inside the planet. The tidal heating does not harm planets. In fact, it helps create a protective magnetic field, which keeps planet’s interior cool and favorable for life.

“Far from being harmful to a planet’s magnetic field, tidal heating can actually help it along – and in doing so also help the chance for habitability.” Dr. Rory Barnes, co-author of the study said.

“This is because of the somewhat counterintuitive fact that the more tidal heating a planetary mantle experiences, the better it is at dissipating its heat, thereby cooling the core, which in turn helps create the magnetic field.”

To learn the effects of tidal heating on magnetic fields, researchers developed a thermal-orbital evolution model by combining orbital interactions and heating with thermal evolution of planetary interiors. Researchers found that tidal heating can actually save a planet in the sense that it allows the cooling of core. That’s the dominant way to form magnetic fields.”

They also found that tidal heating process was more extreme in the planets that were around small stars or those less than half the mass of the Sun.

Lead author Peter Driscoll said. “These preliminary results are promising, but we still don’t know how they would change for a planet like Venus, where slow planetary cooling is already hindering magnetic field generation. In the future, exoplanetary magnetic fields could be observable, so we expect there to be a growing interest in this field going forward.”

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