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The record of magnetic fields in the early solar system

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Abstract

The study of remanent magnetization of lunar samples and of meteorites has opened up the possibility of direct detection of primordial fields in the early history of the solar system. Lunar samples have not yielded a record predating 4.0 b.y. as a result of the intense bombardment on the lunar surface. Meteorites on the other hand can be studied as well as the individual chondrules. These infer the presence of a field as high as 16 Oe when the chondrules within the meteorites formed. This may reflect a primordial field of magnitude inferred for the early solar system. At the same time the magnetic moment of Mars and of Mercury may reflect a magnetization frozen into their crusts during the formation of the crust. These concepts are subject to test by long-range surface magnetic profiles or by satellite studies which would show whether subsequent cratering and volcanic activity has disrupted the crustal pattern. Small objects such as asteroids might also retain a memory of a primordial field.

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Paper dedicated to Professor Hannes Alfvén on the occasion of his 70th birthday, 30 May 1978.

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Strangway, D.W. The record of magnetic fields in the early solar system. The Moon and the Planets 18, 273–279 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00896483

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Keywords

  • Magnetic Field
  • Mercury
  • Solar System
  • Volcanic Activity
  • Remanent Magnetization