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Mysterious lunar swirls finally explained


Posted on Friday, 7 September, 2018 | Comment icon 12 comments

What is responsible for creating these patterns ? Image Credit: NASA
Scientists have finally determined the nature and origin of the strange swirling patterns visible on the Moon's surface.
The unusual formations, which appear more prominent at lower altitudes than at higher altitudes, have remained something of a mystery for years.

Previous studies have indicated that the swirls are associated with powerful, localized magnetic fields on the lunar surface and that they are seemingly less weathered than the surrounding terrain.

"The cause of those magnetic fields, and thus of the swirls themselves, had long been a mystery," said planetary scientist Sonia Tikoo of Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

"To solve it, we had to find out what kind of geological feature could produce these magnetic fields - and why their magnetism is so powerful."

The answer, it turns out, is that the swirls are caused by subterranean lava tubes that were formed when vast quantities of basalt lava flowed on the Moon up to four billion years ago.

The explanation for the magnetism is that when Moon rock is heated to extreme temperatures in the presence of a magnetic field but without the presence of oxygen, it becomes highly magnetized.

"No one had thought about this reaction in terms of explaining these unusually strong magnetic features on the Moon," said Tikoo. "This was the final piece in the puzzle of understanding the magnetism that underlies these lunar swirls."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (12)

Tags: Moon, Swirls

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Rlyeh on 7 September, 2018, 19:37
A "theory" that already contradicts evidence is totally going to account for new evidence against it.
Comment icon #4 Posted by seanjo on 8 September, 2018, 14:51
What hollow Moon "theory"?   This just confirms the Moon was formed because of an impact on the earth 4 billion years ago. Lava tubes are home for future inhabitants.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Piney on 8 September, 2018, 14:54
Or the Earth and Moon started as a big molten "donut". 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Rlyeh on 8 September, 2018, 15:06
I suspect he's talking about this rubbish. "The Hollow Moon hypothesis, or Spaceship Moon hypothesis, proposes that Earth's Moon is either wholly hollow or otherwise contains a substantial interior space. No scientific evidence exists to support the idea; seismic observations and other data collected since spacecraft began to orbit or land on the Moon indicate that it has a thin crust, extensive mantle and small, dense core, although overall it is much less dense than Earth." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollow_Moon
Comment icon #7 Posted by seanjo on 8 September, 2018, 17:55
So 'they' totally ignore the measured mass of the Moon. A measure easily achieved by competent mathematicians using the distance and pull of the Moon on the seas and Newtonian physics! (tides)???
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 9 September, 2018, 7:35
Hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Mystify on 10 September, 2018, 19:13
Rubbish?... Strange because there is tons of scientific research on it. In fact they tested the theory by dropping part of the craft onto the surface of the moon on purpose to see if it would resonate like a bell does. Why? because that's what happened when something was dropped on it's surface the first time. It's interesting because, if it was a solid piece/rock, it wouldn't do that. 
Comment icon #10 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 10 September, 2018, 19:50
Totally and utterly.   Care to cite some?   No they didn't. Again would you care to provide references from a reputable source? In the Apollo era the spent Saturn V upper stages were impacted on the moon to collect data from the  seismometers the astronauts left there. In more recent times upper stages and probes at the end of their working life have been deliberately impacted into the lunar polar regions to test the hypothesis (now proven) that there is water ice there. None of these impacts have been to test whether the moon is hollow.   No it didn't. The entire idiotic hollow-moon drivel is... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by Mystify on 18 September, 2018, 20:48
Yep, great idea! Let's believe everything Nasa says.  Even Neal's article specifically states that they don't have all the answers. There's no way to know because we're not there. Or are we? Again, you're going on the fact that NASA is the be all of end all and never lies. Right.  I suppose you also think that we're along in the universe because well.. Nasa says so. 
Comment icon #12 Posted by Mystify on 18 September, 2018, 21:18
So nice to see Nasa's disclaimer on accurate information. Always covering their butts...


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