The latest research from the Georgia Institute of Technology revealed an unexpected feature of Uranus’s magnetosphere. Scientists detected that the planet’s magnetic fields are capable of switching on and off, on a daily basis.
Research results are available in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Uranus’s Magnetosphere Helps Solar Wind Flow
The new research on Uranus and its magnetic field is based on data gathered by the Voyager 2. Back in 1986, the spacecraft conducted a flyby which helped collect further information on Uranus.
According to research results, this planet’s magnetosphere is capable of “switching” on and off every single day. It does so to allow the flow of solar winds into Uranus, during the “on position”. As this turns “off”, the planet becomes capable of deflecting the solar winds.
The research team also drew attention to the fact that this process occurs each and every day. Earth’s magnetic fields can carry out the same process, but this usually happens only in response to the changes in solar winds.
“The magnetic field tumbles very fast… When the magnetized solar wind meets this tumbling field in the right way, it can reconnect and Uranus’ magnetosphere goes from open to closed to open on a daily basis,” stated Carol Paty, a study co-author.
Research suggests that the differences in between Earth’s and Uranus’s magnetospheres might be tied to their orientation. Namely, Uranus is known to rotate on its side. This also caused its magnetic field to be tilted 60 degrees from its axis and basically be lopsided.
The research team stated that this caused the planet’s magnetosphere to “tumble asymmetrically”.
Uranus is still one of the least known planets in our solar system. The Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have reached and visited the planet. Other information on this world is collected with help from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Scientists consider that a better understanding of the seventh planet and its magnetosphere can contribute to advancing our knowledge of planets outside of the solar system.
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