Uranus’ magnetic field flips on and off like a light switch
Scientists have discovered that the magnetic field of Uranus is turned on and off as a light switch every day as the planet rotates. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US Made the discovery using data from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft that have passed Uranus in 1986.
“The magnetosphere is” open “in one direction, allowing the solar wind to flow into the magnetosphere, then closes, forming a shield against the solar wind and away from the planet,” according to the researchers.
This is very different from the Earth’s magnetosphere, which generally changes between opening and closing in response to changes in the solar wind.
Since the same alignment of the Earth’s magnetosphere always faces the sun, the magnetic field threaded in the ever-present solar wind must change direction to reconfigure the Earth’s field from closed to open. This often happens with strong solar storms.
Uranus establishes and becomes its side, and its magnetic field is unbalanced – it is offset and inclined 60 degrees with respect to its axis. These characteristics make the magnetic field falls asymmetrically with respect to the direction of the solar wind as the ice giant completes its complete rotation 17.24 hours.
Instead of the solar wind dictating a switch like here on Earth, changing the rapid rotation of Uranus on the strength and orientation of the field leads to a periodic open-close-opening-close scenario as it flows into The solar wind.
“Uranus is a geometric nightmare. The magnetic field falls very quickly, like a child rolling on a hill on his heels,” said Carol Paty, associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“When the magnetized solar wind meets the turning field in the right direction, it can reconnect and the Uranus magnetosphere is the opening of the closed opening day,” he added.
The zeroing of magnetic fields is a phenomenon throughout the solar system. This is one reason why the auroras land. The researchers used computer models to simulate the planet’s global magnetosphere and to predict favorable reconnection sites.
The data collected by Voyager 2 during its flight over five days in 1986 is clogged. This is the only time a spacecraft visited.
“Perhaps what we see in Uranus and Neptune is the standard for very singular magnetosphere planets and less aligned magnetic fields,” said Xin Cao Georgia Institute of Technology.
“Understanding how these complex magnetosphere protects exoplanets from stellar radiation is of paramount importance in studying the habitability of these newly discovered worlds,” Cao said.