Studying Planetary Magnetic Fields


More than 80% of planets are composed of metallic hydrogen. However, metallic hydrogen is one of the rarest materials found on Earth. Mohamed Zaghoo, Research Associate, and Gilbert “Rip” Collins, Associate Director for Academics, Science, and Technology, have studied the conductivity of metallic hydrogen using experiments on the OMEGA Laser System to understand how planets form magnetic fields. Jupiter has one of the strongest magnetic fields in our solar system, and the “dynamo” mechanism that causes this is also present deep within the Earth. This dynamo creates our own magnetic field, making our planet habitable by shielding us from harmful solar particles. A key to Jupiter’s magnetic field may lie in understanding the properties of metallic hydrogen, which surrounds Jupiter’s core. A paper on their research was published in The Astrophysical Journal: M. Zaghoo and G. W. Collins, “Size and Strength of Self-Excited Dynamos in Jupiter-Like Extrasolar Planets,” Astrophys. J. 862(1), 19 (2018).

Shown here is Jupiter’s magnetic field