Mysterious whirlwinds reveal the details of the lunar past

Mysterious whirlwinds reveal the details of the lunar past

Sonya Tiku is an associate professor at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University. She studies samples of lunar rock in a Petri dish.

Mysterious moon swirls - one of the most beautiful anomalies of the solar system. This mystery can finally be solved with the help of research from Rutgers University and the University of California at Berkeley.

The findings hint at the dynamism of the ancient lunar past, acting as a place with volcanic activity and internally created magnetic field. These data undermine the usual geological picture of the earth's satellite.

Lunar curls resemble bright light clouds drawn on the dark surface of the moon. The best known is called the Rainer Gamma, which extends 40 miles in length and is very popular with astronomers. Most of the lunar twists share a layout with powerful localized magnetic fields. Bright and dark patterns can form when magnetic fields repel particles of the solar wind and cause some parts of the lunar surface to descend more slowly.

However, the reason for the formation of magnetic fields and turbulence for a long time remained a mystery. To solve the problem, you need to figure out which geological feature is capable of creating magnetic fields and why magnetism is so powerful. Studying the complex geometry of lunar vortices and the associated magnetic fields, scientists have developed mathematical models for geological magnets. It turned out that each vortex should be located above a magnetic object, characterized as a narrow phenomenon, covered close to the surface. This description fits well with lava tubes — long and narrow structures formed by flowing lava during periods of volcanic eruptions. Or with lava dams - vertical sheets of magma embedded in the lunar crust.

Mysterious whirlwinds reveal the details of the lunar past

Reiner Gamma's lunar vortex in a review of the NASA orbiter LRO

Another question arose: how can moths of lava tubes and dams become so magnetic? The answer lies in a reaction capable of being unique to the moon during ancient eruptions (more than 3 billion years ago).

Past experiments have shown that many lunar rocks become magnetized when heated to more than 600 ° C in an environment without oxygen. The fact is that some minerals are destroyed at high temperatures and emit metallic iron. If there is a strong magnetic field nearby, the iron will become magnetized along the direction of this field. On Earth, this usually does not occur, because oxygen enriches iron. Now this will not happen on the moon, devoid of a global magnetic field.

However, the ancient magnetic field of the moon spanned 1-2.5 billion years. It is longer than previously thought, and converges with the period of the formation of lava tubes or dams. Now you need to visit the lunar vortex and explore it directly.

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