Add to favorite
Subscribe to our Newsletters Subscribe to our Newsletters Get Daily Updates RSS

Mercury's Core Is Liquid
August 16, 2007 18:55

Mercury - planet, closest to the Sun

Three terrestrial radar telescopes allowed Russian and American astronomers to show that fluctuations of Mercury's rotation were common for a celestial body, having liquid core. Liquid ore hypothesis was born in 1974, after American interplanetary robot "Mariner-10" circumnavigated Earths neighbour.

Mercury is a difficult object for any kind of observations, since it can be seen only near horizon - either at dawn (in autumn), or at dusk (in spring). That is why this planet remains one of the most poorly studied objects of the Solar system. American interplanetary robot "Mariner-10" brought us the majority of data we now have about Mercury - duration of Mercurian day and year, photographs of Mercurian surface, data on atmosphere content, and a curious fact: the robot detected weak electromagnetic field of the planet. Said field was 100 weaker than Earth's magnetic field, however, such a small planet shouldn't have had any magnetosphere at all - the fact, which had no explanation at that time.


Think-tank of Jean-Luc Margot, which unites astronomers from Cornell University, USA, and scientists from other US and Russian institutions, used two brand new techniques (including speckle interferometry) to find a solution for this problem. Radar studies of Mercury lasted for five years and finally showed that fluctuations of planet's rotation were specific for a celestial body, having liquid core. Results of said studies are published in the last issue of Science magazine.

The work confirms the theory about Mercury generating its own magnetic field by means of dynamo effect - effect of convection within liquid electroconductive metal core (our Earth actually generates its magnetic field the same way). First, scientists measured small shifts of Mercury while revolving round its axis, and after they studied specific spotty speckle patterns, i.e. artifacts, appearing due to interference of rays, dissipated by object's discrete irregularities. "Parasite" fluctuations in fluorescence intensity of such structures appeared to have information on librations and object deformation.

Physicists have generalized received data and successfully detected periodic failures in Mercury rotation, caused by tidal interactions with the Sun, which has different effect on planets with liquid and solid cores. Margot's group used data of three telescopes: Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (West Virginia, USA), Arecibo Observatory (Puerto-Rico) and Goldstone Observatory (California).


Scientists plan to study "failures" and fluctuations of Venus's rotation - if any. Such studies became possible since unusual radar techniques, suggested by Russian astronomer Igor Kholin from Russian Institute of Space Research (co-author of article in Science), were improved.

Of course, not all mysteries of Mercury's magnetosphere are solved to date - the issue of core's emollescence is still a burning one. We hope that American "Messenger", which is scheduled for launch in next January, will shed light on this problem.

    Large Longitude Libration of Mercury Reveals a Molten Core//Science. 2007. V. 316. P. 710–714.

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists     

Next Previous

You might also find interesting:

Artificial Skin to Treat Severe Burns Is Your Medication Fake? Innovative Incubator for Organ Regeneration Created in Siberia Plasma Shell of Supersonic Aircrafts Can Be Real Heavy Brains Make Mice Less Shy, But Not Smarter

Comment on our site

RSS   twitter      submit

Flemish Painters  Nizhnevartovsk  Trofim Borisov  Kazan night life  LGBT in Russia  Russian monasteries  Sochi Olympics  Moscow Vnukovo  Theatre Festivals  Moscow Theatres  Russian Metro  Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory  Russian aviation  Russian economy  religious tourism  Dostoevsky Day  echpochmak  Archeology  Central House of Artist  Aeroexpresses   Ski resorts  Sheremetyevo Airport  tourism  Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria  migrant  Museum of erotic art  Russian Cinema  Moscow  Russian society  Vladimir Zhirinovsky  Football  Russian visa  Spartak Moscow  Russia-Italy  Armory Chamber  Russian scientists  FIFA world cup 2018 tickets  St. Petersburg  Russian science  Russian academy of sciences  Liberal-Democratic Party  Circus in Moscow  the Urals region  Mikhail Beketov  Exhibitions in Moscow  Old Moscow  Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia  Russian business  Skolkovo  Russian tourism 

Travel Blogs
Top Traveling Sites