Earth's magnetic field, also known as the geomagnetic field, is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth's interior to where it meets the solar wind, a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun. The North and South magnetic poles wander widely, but sufficiently slowly for ordinary compasses to remain useful for navigation.
The magnetosphere is the region above the ionosphere and extends several tens of thousands of kilometers into space, protecting the Earth from the charged particles of the solar wind and cosmic rays that would otherwise strip away the upper atmosphere, including the ozone layer that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) reach Earth affecting planetary magnetics, sparking geomagnetic storms, shifting ocean and jet stream currents in the Pacific Ring of Fire, creating unusual and extreme global weather patterns, creating unstoppable Earth changes, and affecting the behavior patterns of all sentient life forms. Earth's last magnetic reversal took place 786,000 years ago and happened very quickly, in less than 100 years -- roughly a human lifetime. Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm. The solution to a long-standing puzzle, why magnetic north sits off the coast of Canada, rather than at the North Pole, may have been found in the strange, lopsided nature of Earth's inner core. For migratory birds and sea turtles, the ability to sense the Earth's magnetic field is crucial to navigating the long-distance voyages these animals undertake during migration.
Humans may have a sixth sense after all, suggests a new study finding that a protein in the human retina, when placed into fruit flies, has the ability to detect magnetic fields. A light-sensitive protein in the human eye has been shown to act as a "compass" in a magnetic field, when it is present in flies' eyes. In order to date environmental events from Earth's history such as meteorite impacts or climate change - geologists have long studied variations in slow-growing seafloor sedimentary rocks called ferromanganese crusts that build up in layers over the eons. Scientists have managed to push back the date for the earliest known presence of a magnetic field on Earth by about 250 million years. Building on prior investigation into the biological mechanisms through which monarch butterflies are able to migrate up to 2,000 miles from eastern North America to a particular forest in Mexico each year, neurobiologists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have linked two related photoreceptor proteins found in butterflies to animal navigation using the Earth's magnetic field. The magnetic equivalent of electricity in a 'spin ice' material: atom sized north and south poles in spin ice drift in opposite directions when a magnetic field is applied.
Princeton University scientists have shown that, in ancient times, the Earth's magnetic field was structured like the two-pole model of today, suggesting that the methods geoscientists use to reconstruct the geography of early land masses on the globe are accurate. The flow of seawater across Earth's surface could be responsible for small fluctuations in the planet's magnetic field, a controversial new study says. NASA's Swift satellite reported multiple blasts of radiation from a rare object known as a soft gamma repeater, or SGR. An enormous eruption has found its way to Earth after traveling for many thousands of years across space. Based on studies of old volcanic basalt, scientists know that the EarthOs magnetic field reverses at irregular intervals, ranging from tens of thousands to millions of years.
An unexpected, thick layer of solar particles inside Earth's magnetic field suggests there are huge breaches in our planet's solar defenses. Scientists have found two large leaks in Earth's magnetosphere, the region around our planet that shields us from severe solar storms.
NASA's five THEMIS spacecraft have discovered a breach in Earth's magnetic field ten times larger than anything previously thought to exist. Ancient lava flows are guiding a better understanding of what generates and controls the Earth's magnetic field - and what may drive it to occasionally reverse direction. Rapid changes in the churning movement of Earth's liquid outer core are weakening the magnetic field in some regions of the planet's surface, a new study says. Earth's magnetic field is weakening in staggered steps, a new analysis of centuries-old ships logs suggests.The finding could help scientists better understand the way Earth's magnetic poles reverse.
One of the most fascinating natural phenomena on Earth is the flipping of its magnetic field, which has occurred hundreds of times in the last 160 million years. After some 400 years of relative stability, Earth's North Magnetic Pole has moved nearly 1,100 kilometers out into the Arctic Ocean during the last century and at its present rate could move from northern Canada to Siberia within the next half-century.
A long look at a young pulsar with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed unexpectedly rapid cooling, which suggests that it contains much denser matter than previously expected. Earth's magnetic field has flipped many times over the last billion years, according to the geologic record.
Today it is about 10 percent weaker than it was when German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss started keeping tabs on it in 1845, scientists say. CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 11 (UPI) -- Scientists have found a cluster of supermassive black holes in the distant universe, all spinning out radio jets in the same direction.
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Satellite data suggests field weakening in Western Hemisphere, magnetic north pole shifting over Siberia. High resolution images from the European Space Agency’s 3 Swarm satellites has given scientists a unique look at the magnetic field that protects Earth from cosmic rays.
Measurements taken over the past 6 months show the field is weakening, most dramatically over the Western Hemisphere. The data also shows the planet’s magnetic north pole is shifting southwards over Siberia. The magnetic field is generated from a variety of sources, including the Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere. Scientists will continue to examine the data in the hopes of gaining new insight into many natural phenomenon.
It turns out that they do, sort of, and a NASA-funded researcher at the University of Iowa has figured out how to find them.
To learn how to pinpoint these events, Scudder looked at data from a space probe that orbited Earth more than 10 years ago. Because Polar carried sensors similar to those of MMS, Scudder decided to see how an X-point looked to Polar. This means that single member of the MMS constellation using the diagnostics can find a portal and alert other members of the constellation.

It’s a shortcut worthy of the best portals of fiction, only this time the portals are real. The work of Scudder and colleagues is described in complete detail in the June 1 issue of the Physical Review Letters. Earth's magnetic field shields the planet from charged particles streaming from the sun, keeping it from becoming a barren, Mars-like rock. By relying on insights gleaned from previous work, as well as data collected over nearly four centuries, an international team of scientists has been able to provide a model that accounts for the western drift of the magnetic field on one side of the planet. The magnetic field that encases the planet is caused by interactions deep inside Earth's core.
The field surrounding the Earth changes over time, with shifts occurring most prominently in low latitudes in the Western Hemisphere. Relying on more than 400 years of data, including more than a decade's worth of continuous global satellite observations, Aubert's team was able to create the first model to explain the westward drift.
Gravity aligns the inner core and the mantle, the layer between the core and the outer crust, forcing liquid metal in the outer core into enormous rotating vortexes known as gyres. The team concluded that the core was not growing evenly, but instead seemed to be cooling at different rates, with the solid material changing differentially across the core.
This broken-up cooling causes an uneven buoyancy release from the outer core, which distorts the gyre as it reaches the core's surface.
An artist's impression of the magnetic fields of Venus, Earth and Mars interacting with charged particles streaming from the sun.
To create such a detailed model, Aubert relied not only on modern satellite readings, but also on data collected centuries ago, some by scientists famous for other exploits. The long-term scope of these observations is important because the core convection changes about every century.
Understanding how the Earth's core and magnetic field have changed in the past can help scientists to understand its future evolution.
This understanding could also help planetary scientists to learn more about planets other than Earth. Scientists have discovered that Earth's moon might play a major role when it comes to maintaining Earth's magnetic field. The classical model of the formation of Earth's magnetic field has raised some major questions. In fact, our planet receives about 3,700 billion watts of power through the transfer of the gravitational and rotational energy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The findings are published in the March 2016 journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Lukas Nelson, the son of Willie Nelson, has released a new album, "Something Real," with his roots rock band Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real.
Louise Harrison, the elder sister of George Harrison, had a front-row seat to musical history.
We Millennials are killing the art of conversation and the desire to make our voices heard a€“ really heard a€“ one text message at a time. Def Leppard's Vivian Campbell is proud of Last In Line's debut album "Heavy Crown," but says "it's never going to be quite the same" without bassist Jimmy Bain, who passed away in January. However, at irregular intervals averaging several hundred thousand years, the Earth's field reverses and the North and South Magnetic Poles relatively abruptly switch places. The rapid flip, much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought, comes as new measurements show the planet's magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal and could drop to zero in a few thousand years.
The layers can be dated by various means, such as by analyzing radioactive isotopes, but those methods don't provide accurate dating on small scales: a millimeter of rock, for example, can include information that spans as much as hundreds of thousands of years.
The shift widens the distance between true north and magnetic north, which is the direction a compass needle points. Experts know birds possess an internal magnetic compass, but there is disagreement about what form it takes. The findings may lead to a better understanding of historical continental movement, which relates to changes in climate. If so, the research would challenge the widely accepted theory that Earth's magnetic field is generated by a churning molten core, or dynamo, in the planet's interior. Now, astronomers report an in-depth study of these eruptions using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton and International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) satellites. Volcanic basalt rock contains magnetite, and when the rock cools, its magnetic properties are frozen, recording the Earth's magnetic field of the time.
These breaches indicate that during the next period of high solar activity, due to start in 2012, Earth will experience some of the worst solar storms seen in decades.
The leaks are defying many of scientists' previous ideas on how the interaction between Earth's magnetosphere and solar wind occurs: The leaks are in an unexpected location, let in solar particles in faster than expected and the whole interaction works in a manner that is completely the opposite of what scientists had thought.
Solar wind can flow in through the opening to "load up" the magnetosphere for powerful geomagnetic storms. The main magnetic field, generated by turbulent currents within the deep mass of molten iron of the Earth's outer core, periodically flips its direction, such that a compass needle would point south rather than north. The planet's magnetic field flips - north becomes south and vice versa - on average every 300,000 years. If that happens, Alaska may be in danger of losing one of its most stunning natural phenomena ? the Northern Lights. The pulsar's cool temperature and the vast magnetic web of high-energy particles that surrounds it have implications for the theory of nuclear matter and the origin of magnetic fields in cosmic objects. But only in the past decade have scientists developed and evolved a computer model to demonstrate how these reversals occur.
Like a Kryptonite-challenged Superman, its strength has steadily and mysteriously waned, leaving parts of the planet vulnerable to increased radiation from space. James Ross located the pole for the first time in 1831 after an exhausting arctic journey during which his ship got stuck in the ice for four years In 1904, Roald Amundsen found the pole again and discovered that it had moved at least 50 km since the days of Ross. 20 (UPI) -- A lot of people were concerned the Earth's magnetic field would suddenly reverse at the end of the Mayan calendar, but that didn't happen. The new data, collected by scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley shows such a shift happened within a 100-year time period around 786,000 years ago.
While the scientists who discovered this admit it could affect the electrical grid, they don't seem concerned. Scientists have developed a trap for luring female rats, using male pheromones and vocalizations. They’re typically located a few tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth where the geomagnetic field meets the onrushing solar wind.
Bristling with energetic particle detectors and magnetic sensors, the four spacecraft of MMS will spread out in Earth’s magnetosphere and surround the portals to observe how they work. Mingling lines of magnetic force from the sun and Earth criss-cross and join to create the openings.
Mission planners long thought that MMS might have to spend a year or so learning to find portals before it could study them. For more than 300 years, scientists have recorded a westward-drifting feature in the field that models have been unable to explain.
The inner core is solid, while the outer core features flowing liquid iron, which generates currents that in turn lead to magnetic fields.

The fast-moving magnetic patches that occur near the equator drift approximately 10 miles (20 kilometers) per year.
These gyres can reach as large as 1,700 miles (2,700 km) deep within the mantle, while smaller gyres occur closer to the surface. Since the magnetic field shields Earth from harmful solar radiation, which could strip the planet of its protective atmosphere, it is important to understand how it changes and will change over time. Scientists recently found that the moon might be playing a major role in maintaining Earth's magnetic field. For the geodynamo, which is the rapid motion of huge quantities of liquid iron alloy in the Earth's outer core, to actually work in the model, the Earth would have had to be completely molten about four billion years ago.
Its core would have had to cool from around 6,800 degrees Celsius at that time to about 3,800 degrees today.
It reveals that the effect of gravitational forces on a planet's magnetic field can have a major impact. This could be extremely important when considering other planets and also when calculating our own Earth's magnetic field and the forces that cause it to respond the way it does. Roughly speaking it is the field of a magnetic dipole currently tilted at an angle of about 10 degrees with respect to Earth's rotational axis, as if there were a bar magnet placed at that angle at the center of the Earth. These reversals of the geomagnetic poles leave a record in rocks that are of value to paleomagnetists in calculating geomagnetic fields in the past.
It is surrounded by a liquid outer core (mostly iron and nickel), a rocky, viscous mantle layer and a thin, solid crust.
One idea is that tiny magnets in the beak wired to the nervous system detect lines of magnetic force. By taking a closer look at the 1.1 billion-year-old volcanic rocks on the north shore of Lake Superior, the researchers have found that Earth's ancient magnetic field was a geocentric axial dipole -- essentially a large bar magnet centered in the core and aligned with the Earth's spin axis.
With this data, scientists estimate that the last magnetic field reversal occurred about 780,000 years ago.
Such polarity reversals have occurred hundreds of times at irregular intervals throughout the planet's history - most recently about 780,000 years ago - but scientists are still trying to understand how and why.
Scientists already suspected birds' eyes contain molecules that are thought to sense Earth's magnetic field. The last time this happened was some 780,000 years ago, so we could be heading for another reversal soon. The pole kept going during the 20th century, north at an average speed of 10 km per year, lately accelerating to 40 km per year. Such a reversal tends to happen after a rapid period of weakening in the magnetic field, which evidence shows we are currently experiencing. They note that cancer rates could theoretically go up during a period of little to no magnetic field protection from cosmic rays, but the world will not end. UPI also provides insightful reports on key topics of geopolitical importance, including energy and security. It became known as UPI after a merger with the International News Service in 1958, which was founded in 1909 by William Randolph Hearst. These changes are driven by intense regions of activity in the core, the cause of which scientists have been at a loss to explain. As these gyres are concentrated at low latitudes, core convection expels them and pushes them westward, the model shows. In this case, the researchers found that this effect could continuously stimulate the motion of the liquid iron alloy in the outer core, and actually help generate Earth's magnetic field. In fact, it's this energy that might generate the planet's magnetic field; together with the moon, this might resolve a major issue with the classical theory. Not only that, but research has shown that the gravitational forces from two of Jupiter's moons, Io and Europa, can affect the magnetic field of the planet. Unlike a bar magnet, however, Earth's magnetic field changes over time because it is generated by a geodynamo (in Earth's case, the motion of molten iron alloys in its outer core). Such information in turn is helpful in studying the motions of continents and ocean floors in the process of plate tectonics. New findings show that a missing piece of the traditional theory explaining why metals become less conductive when they are heated was needed to complete the puzzle of this field-generating process.
As the inner core cools, crystallizing iron releases impurities, sending lighter molten material into the liquid outer core. The planet's magnetic field is on the move, a normal enough phenomenon, but one that has some rather bizarre implications, such as the need to renumber airport runways.
Another is that magnetic fields are ''seen'' via the eyes using a light-sensitive mechanism. Researchers are even more amazed at the strange and unexpected way it forms, overturning long-held ideas of space physics. In a new study, German researchers found that these molecules are linked to an area of the brain known to process visual information. There, the heat of the Earth's solid inner core churns a liquid outer core composed of iron and nickel.
What is uncertain is whether the weakened field is on the way to a complete collapse and a reversal that would flip the North and South Poles.
Tons of energetic particles can flow through the openings, heating Earth’s upper atmosphere, sparking geomagnetic storms, and igniting bright polar auroras.
This upwelling, combined with the Earth's rotation, drives convection, forcing the molten metal into whirling vortices. Tampa International Airport on Florida's west coast just finished renaming its three runways, a laborious project that interrupted airport traffic for a month while runways were shut down for repainting. The new research suggests that, for robins at least, the second theory is probably correct. In that sense, "birds may see the magnetic field," said study lead author Dominik Heyers, a biologist at the University of Oldenburg. Since 1840, when accurate measures of the intensity were first made, the field strength has declined by about 5 percent per century. The churning acts like convection, which generates electric currents and, as a result, a magnetic field.
German scientists studied 36 European robins and found birds with damage to ''cluster N'' were unable to orientate themselves using the Earth's magnetic field. Human-made compasses work by using Earth as an enormous magnet and orienting a tiny magnet attached to a needle to the planet's north and south poles.
If this decline is continuous, the magnetic field could drop to zero and reverse sometime within the next 2,000 years. Currently, the center of the field, called an axis, emerges in the Arctic Ocean west of Ellesmere Island, about 300 miles (500 kilometers) from the geographic North Pole.
But the field might not always be in steady decline, according to a new study appearing in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science. The rotational effect helps scientists understand what's happening inside the Earth's core.

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