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Science & Technology

Earth's core formed over a billion years ago

By T.K. Randall
October 10, 2015 · Comment icon 4 comments

The Earth's core has a radius of around 760 miles. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 NikoLang
Scientists have revealed new findings about the Pluto-sized ball of iron at the center of our planet.
Despite being situated directly beneath our feet the interior of the Earth remains a difficult place to study. Consisting of several different layers, this alien environment is just as inaccessible and just as mysterious as the surface of the some of the planet's we've been observing out in space.

This week scientists at the University of Liverpool in England have revealed that the Earth's core - a huge ball of solid iron - most likely formed between 1 and 1.5 billion years ago.

They also discovered that the swirling liquid iron outer core, which is responsible for powering the magnetic field that encircles our planet, could keep going for at least another billion years.
"The theoretical model which best fits our data indicates that the core is losing heat more slowly than at any point in the last 4.5 billion years and that this flow of energy should keep the Earth's magnetic field going for another billion years or more," said study co-author Andy Biggin.

The remarkable resilience of our own planet's outer core is in stark contrast to that of the interior of Mars which, having once also generated a protective magnetic field, is now all but inactive.

Scientists believe that this could be one of the reasons that the Earth is teeming with life while Mars has become a dry, cold wasteland where signs of life have yet to be found.

Source: Discovery News | Comments (4)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by WelshRed 8 years ago
I had limited education on astronomy during my school years and what I do know (or think I know more to the point) is from self education post school so I am far from "educated" in this subject. that said it seems to me that Earth's moon has been critical to keeping the planet "ideal" for life. What would earth be like now if it never had a moon? I know it's closer to the sun than Mars and that is "probably" THE most important factor, being the right distance from the sun but it's not the "only" important factor. Mars was stripped of its atmosphere by solar winds (for the most part) long ago d... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by qxcontinuum 8 years ago
the engineer who had designed earth has tought thing well.
Comment icon #3 Posted by fred_mc 8 years ago
the engineer who had designed earth has tought thing well. It has nothing to do with design, it is all about probabilities. The universe is infinite, or at least so big so it can be considered infinite. This means that even very improbable things will happen somewhere. In fact, a small probability multiplied with infinity is still infinity so there will be an infinite number of places where very improbable things will happen.
Comment icon #4 Posted by sepulchrave 8 years ago
Maybe Earth's core has stayed molten for 2 reasons... 1) it's a bigger planet with a therefore larger core so it has managed to stay molten for longer in it's natural lifecycle and thus it still has a magnetic field. 2) the moons gravitational effect has kept enough friction going inside the planet to keep the core spinning and molten. Interesting idea; it seems plausible. Venus is believed to have a molten core but it has no magnetic field. Venus is basically the same size as Earth, but lacks a moon. Venus does have a thick atmosphere, but it has very little water - the ionizing solar wind st... [More]

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