The magnetic mystery at the center of the Earth

New research tackles the paradox surrounding the planet’s core

computer simulation of Earth's magnetic field

FLIP FLOP  In a computer simulation, magnetic field lines (top row) twist and curl around the Earth’s liquid outer core. This magnetism results from swirling, or convecting, liquid iron (bottom row). The simulation mimics the process of a polarity reversal in which Earth’s north and south magnetic poles swap. Such reversals, a sign of a strong magnetic field generator, are seen going back hundreds of millions of years in planetary history.

P. Olson/Johns Hopkins Univ.

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