SALT LAKE CITY (KTVX) – Jupiter is the largest and one of the most mysterious planets in the solar system. It is 1,300 times the size of the Earth and never seems to behave the way scientists predict.
According space.com, Jupiter has a magnetic field 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s.
But the question of how a gas giant creates this magnetic attraction remains. After all, it’s made of, well, gas.
Professor Eduard Chekmenev, an MRI researcher at Wayne University in Michigan, may have come up with an answer.
His laboratory is researching the advancement of MRI technology and is exploring nuclear magnetic resonance. During the research, Chekmenev realized how the dihydrogen they work with releases energy. It was similar to what they said could be happening to some degree on Jupiter and, more importantly, on Uranus and Neptune.
According to the University of Colorado Atmospheric and Space Physics Laboratory, Jupiter’s magnetic field is so strong that it begins to avoid the solar wind 3 million kilometers before reaching the planet.
The field affects the solar wind to Saturn’s orbit, and the solar wind is where Jupiter obtains many of the charged particles.
Think of it as using space dust. The charged particles can slide along the magnetic lines and release energy, which can be across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Energy can be measured as radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays.
O energy like radio waves is what the Juno spacecraft recently found coming from the moon Ganymede.
But the fundamental question is how all gas giants – Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus, collectively called Jovian planets – create strong and persistent magnetic fields without the presence of metals like iron.
One theory is that Jupiter created enough pressure to create metallic hydrogen. It is when a common element acts like a metal. Intense pressure is required, and the theory of metallic hydrogen works for Jupiter and Saturn to help explain their magnetic fields.
But Neptune and Uranus are much smaller and there is not enough pressure for metallic hydrogen to exist, although both have magnetic fields as well.
Chekmenev said that much of the discovery is based on his work with dihydrogen, or two hydrogen atoms.
Dihydrogen molecules can exist in two forms – ortho and para – and that depends on how the proton nuclei are spinning.
For his MRI research, Chekmenev uses dihydrogen, and the shape of the dihydrogen atoms used is for, meaning that they are rotating at opposite ends.
When they are rotating at opposite ends, there is no liquid magnetism, but para-hydrogen can be used to induce large nuclear magnetization.
“The magnetization of nuclear spins can be increased by many orders of magnitude and increases the MRI signal – as a result, an MRI scan of highly magnetized contrast agents can be performed in less than a second,” said Chekemenev.
He said that in his previous research, he had the impression that if the para-hydrogen changed state to ortho hydrogen interacting with something else, “all the magnetizations caught would be lost”. He said, “But I was wrong.”
In a 2013 experiment, the research team realized that the conversion of para-hydrogen to ortho-hydrogen retains a high degree of magnetization – in ortho-hydrogen, the nuclei rotate in the same direction. During the experiment, highly magnetized ortho hydrogen was detected.
“I thought, oh my God, it probably matters more than what we do because this process must be happening somewhere else in the universe too, in addition to our test tube where we did our experiment, after all hydrogen is the most abundant element” Chekemenev said.
He started researching the idea on a larger scale and realized that there had been many decades of research, all dealing with the parahydrogen-orthohydrogen balance of the Jupiter planets.
The “Aha” moment
It was the “aha” moment. Magnetic resonance research here on Earth has led to a new theory of what is happening in the Jupiter system – which spans Jupiter, its rings and moons – and beyond.
Scientists realized that they were seeing this daily.
“The current understanding of why Jupiterian planets have magnetic fields is because they must all have planetary dynamo or electrical currents to move electrically conductive planetary layers. That in the case of Jupiter and Saturn, it could be metallic hydrogen, ”said Chekmenev. “It is expected to exist under high pressure. For Neptune and Uranus, the search for electrically conductive layers is still underway. I thought that maybe we didn’t need an ocean of diamonds to explain what’s going on. Perhaps we can explain at the level of the dihydrogen itself. “
Chemenev’s theory boils until the conversion of spin when the non-magnetic para-state changes to the ortho-state with substantially improved magnetization.
Nuclear inversion and magnetism fire.
“In short, the hidden magnetic force of parahydrogen awakens after conversion to orthohydrogen,” explained Chemkmenev. “Previous fly-by missions found that Jupiter’s planets have layers rich in para-hydrogen with clouds made of solid microparticles. These particles can facilitate rapid para- ortho-interconversion and constantly reload the enhanced magnetization of orthohydrogen. This continuous exchange is crucial to produce persistent magnetism on a planetary scale. In addition, the new theory also explains the multipolar nature of the magnetospheres of Jupiter’s planets. “
He added: “Based on the things that we were able to show in my laboratory, when para-hydrogen converts its state under a specific set of conditions, it can become highly magnetized ortho-hydrogen.”
If it happens on the scale of a planet the size of Uranus, you will have amazing magnetic fields and complex patterns.
The professor explained that he is not saying that the current theory based on metallic hydrogen is wrong, but that his theory it will also explain why there is magnetism on other planets like Neptune and Uranus “where the pressure is insufficient for metallic hydrogen to exist.”
“If orthohydrogen is produced from para-hydrogen, it can gain high levels of magnetization,” said Chemkmenev. “This creates the magnetic field itself.”
So how does the magnetic field generate the radio waves that Juno picked up from Ganymede?
The teacher smiled and said, “This part is beyond me, but we are working on it.”