Which Planet Has the Weirdest Magnetic Field?

Posted: October 26, 2018 by oldbrew in Electro-magnetism, humour, solar system dynamics

In the solar system and the universe too, ‘weird’ may well be another way of saying ‘we haven’t figured it out yet’.

Planet Pailly

When I did my yearlong Mission to the Solar System series back in 2015, the planet Neptune stood out as having the weirdest and wackiest magnetic field.  Here’s a totally legit photograph from 1989 taken by the Voyager 2 space probe.  As you can see, Neptune is really confused about how magnetic fields are supposed to work.

But since 2015, science has learned more about the other three gas giants in our Solar System.  Neptune’s magnetic field is still really weird, but it’s no longer clear that it is the definitive weirdest.

  • Jupiter: Based on data from the Juno mission, it looks like Jupiter has three poles instead of two.  There’s a north pole, right about where you’d expect it to be.  Then the magnetic field lines emanating from the north pole connect to two separate south poles.  The first south pole is about where you’d expect a south pole…

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  1. jb says:

    The fact that the magnetic fields of these two planets are so odd suggests to me that the atomic elements that make up their cores are not uniformly distributed nor entirely magnetic. This characteristic along with their densities and inertia vs mass are out of place in the system distribution leads me to consider they are not indigenous to the formation of the solar system.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Re. Saturn’s ring system…

    According to data collected during the Cassini mission’s Grand Finale, Saturn’s magnetic field is almost perfectly aligned with its rotation. At first blush, that might seem quite normal. Commonplace, even. Except no other planet’s magnetic field is so perfectly aligned. Not even close. Apparently planetary scientists didn’t think such a thing was even possible. [bold added]

    In the linked article:
    There also seems to be an electric current flowing between the inner ring, the D ring, and the planet. The rings cut across the main magnetic field lines as they lie around the planet’s equator [bold added]

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-latest-insights-saturn-weird-magnetic.html

    Something like this?

  3. J.S. Pailly says:

    Thanks for the reblog! And you’re absolutely right: weird really is just a way of saying we haven’t figured this out yet.