Scientists have created the most detailed map ever to depict Jupiter’s magnetic field. It’s a big one — 18,000 times more powerful than Earth’s, it’s the second largest continuous structure in the solar system, second only to the Sun’s heliosphere. The field extends more than 4 million miles from the gas giant’s surface.
The Earth generates a magnetic field by the convection of molten nickel-iron alloys in its outer core. Jupiter’s outer core is also thought to be responsible for its enormous magnetic field, though it is liquid hydrogen crushed by intense pressure into a metallic form that generates the magnetism rather than iron compounds. . In addition, the gas giant’s surface is buffeted by powerful winds and huge storms, like the famous Great Red Spot. Scientists believe that these surface winds interact with the metallic liquid hydrogen below to stimulate some of the secondary properties of the magnetic field.
Previous maps have focused on the magnetism created by Jupiter’s core. This time, scientists analyzed those measurements in conjunction with forces closer to the surface, allowing them to make more accurate and detailed visualizations. NASA’s Juno mission probe will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 and will be able to bring us even more information about its mysterious world. (Image: Online Library)