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Earth’s unique magnetic field helped its habitability

14 Mar 2019, 10:10 UTC
Earth’s unique magnetic field helped its habitability
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The magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on everyday life. Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab
A study by scientists at the Australian National University on the magnetic fields of planets has found that most planets discovered in other stellar systems are unlikely to be as hospitable to life as Earth.
Plants and animals would not survive without water on Earth. The sheer strength of Earth’s magnetic field helps to maintain liquid water on our blue planet’s surface, thereby making it possible for life to thrive.
Scientists from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics modelled the magnetic fields of exoplanets – planets beyond our Solar System – and found very few have a magnetic field as strong as Earth.
They contend that techniques for finding exoplanets the size of Earth are more likely to find slowly rotating planets locked to their host star in the same way the Moon is locked to Earth, with the same side always facing their host star.
The lead author of the study, PhD scholar Sarah McIntyre, said strong magnetic fields may be necessary to keep wet rocky exoplanets habitable.
“Magnetic fields appear to play ...

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