The clock is ticking for planet Earth

The clock is ticking for planet Earth

Temperatures remain relatively constant in the Earth’s crust throughout the year. However, under the crust, under our feet is an incredibly hot place – Earth’s core!

From driving plate tectonics to keeping us safe from solar radiation, Earth’s core is not only interesting but also, in part, vital to life on Earth. How long can Earth’s core stay hot?

Read on to find out.

Related: Important to Understanding Life on Earth

How hot is the center of the Earth?

How hot is the Earth’s core?

Experts believe that the Earth Nucleus It exceeds temperatures higher than the surface of the sun 18032 degrees Fahrenheit (10,000 ° C).

Source: NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory / USGS

How did you get so hot in the first place?

One theory is that about 4.5 billion years ago, our solar system consisted of a cloud of cold dust particles, this cloud of gas and dust was somewhat turbulent and began to collapse, as gravity pulled everything together, forming a huge spinning disk.

The center of the disk doubled to become the sun, and the particles in the outer rings turned into large fireballs of molten gas and liquid that cooled and condensed into a solid form.

At the same time, the surface of the newly formed planet was under constant bombardment from large bodies colliding with the planet, generating enormous heat in its interior, causing the cosmic dust there to melt.

When Earth formed, it was Uniforms A ball of hot rock. Radioactive decay And the heat left over from the planet’s formation made this ball even hotter. Ultimately, about 500 million years later, Earth temperature Arrived to Melting point Of iron – about 1,538 ° C (2,800 ° F).

This allowed the land fusible, Rocky materials to move more quickly. relatively prosperous Materials, such as SilicateS, water and even air remained near planet Earth The outside will It became the mantle and crust early. Drops of iron, nickel and others Heavy metals AttractedD to the center of the earth, forming an early core. This process is called Planetary differentiation.

Unlike MineralRich rind and mantle, the core is believed to be composed almost entirely of metal – specifically, iron and nickel. While the inner core is believed to be a solid ball with a radius around it 760 miles (1,220 km), with a surface temperature 5700 K (5430 ° C, 9800 ° F); The outer core is believed to be A liquid layer about 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) thick and reaching temperatures ranging from 3,000 K (2730 ° C, 4,940 ° F) to 8,000 K (7,730 ° C, 13940 ° F).

The kernel is thought to be very hot due to Decay of radioactive elements, residual heat from planetary formation, and heat released as the liquid outer core hardens near it the border With an inner core.

So, the pulp is incredibly hot, but how long can it stay hot?

Scientists in Maryland University To claim that they will be able to answer the question within the next four years.

Leadership Earth Movement of tectonic plates and the operation of their magnetic fields require an enormous amount of energy. It draws energy from the center of the Earth, but scientists are sure that the core cools very slowly.

What makes the center of the Earth hot?

Maintain a middle Land Two hot sources of “fuel”: the primordial energy left over from the planet’s formation and the nuclear energy found due to natural radioactive decay.

How long is the remaining time until the core of the earth runs out of fuel?
Source: Nedpics

Earth’s formation came at a time when the solar system was filled with energy. During their childhood, meteorites bombarded the formed planet constantly, causing excessive amounts of frictional force. At that time, the earth was full of volcanic activity.

How long will Earth’s core last?

From the start, the planet has cooled significantly. However, the remaining heat remains from the Earth’s formation. Although the primordial heat has dissipated to a great extent, another form of heat continues to warm the mantle and the Earth’s crust.

Radioactive materials are naturally found in large quantities deep in the earth, and some are found around the crust. During the natural decomposition process of the radioactive material, heat is released.

Scientists know that heat is flowing from Earth’s interior into space at a rate of about 44 x 1012 W (Taiwan). But what they don’t know is the amount of primordial heat.

Earth's core
Source: Doyon Kim / University of Maryland

The problem is that if the Earth’s heat is mostly primitive, it will cool faster. However, if the heat was due in part to radioactive decay, then Earth’s heat is likely to last longer.

While this sounds extremely disconcerting, some estimates point to cooling Earth’s core I see it takes Tens of billions of years, or up to 91 billion years. That’s a very long time, and in fact, the Sun will likely burn long before the core – in the surrounding area 5 billion years.

Why is the core temperature of the Earth important?

The Earth’s core keeps the temperature stable, but more importantly, it keeps the Earth’s magnetic field in place. Earth’s magnetic field is formed by the movement of the outer core of molten metal.

This huge magnetic field extends into space and carries in place charged particles that are mostly collected from the solar wind.

The fields create an impenetrable barrier in space that prevents the fastest and most energetic electrons from reaching Earth. The fields are known as the Van Allen Belts, and they are what enables life to thrive on Earth’s surface. Without a magnetic field shield, the solar wind would strip Earth’s atmosphere from Ozone Layer Which protects life from harmful UV.

The array of charged particles deflects and catches the solar wind, preventing it from stripping Earth from its atmosphere. Without it, our planet would be barren and lifeless. It is believed that Mars was once upon a time Van Allen calls That also protects it from the sun’s deadly winds. However, once the core cooled, it lost its shield, and now it remains a wasteland.

Lava ground core
Source: USGS Volcanoes

How long will Earth’s fuel last?

Currently, many scientific models can estimate how much fuel is left to power Earth’s engines. But the results vary greatly making it difficult to draw a final conclusion. At the moment, it is not known how much the primordial and radiant energy was left.

One of the study authors said, “I am one of those scientists who created a synthetic model of the Earth and predicted how much fuel is inside the Earth today.” William McDonough, Professor of Geology at the University of Maryland.

How long is the remaining time until the core of the earth runs out of fuel?
This Gif animation represents Van Allen belts deflecting and absorbing high-energy electrons, preventing them from reaching the ground. Source: NASA /Goddard Studio / Scientific Visualization

“We are in the realm of guesswork. At this point in my career, I don’t care whether I’m right or wrong, I just want to know the answer.” However, researchers believe that with recent technological advances, a more accurate prediction can be made.

To determine how much nuclear fuel is left in Earth, researchers are using sophisticated sensors to detect some of the smallest known subatomic particles Science – geoneutrinos. Geoneutrino particles are byproducts of nuclear reactions that take place inside stars, supernovae, black holes, and man-made nuclear reactors.

Detect the amount of remaining fuel

Detecting antineutrino particles is a very difficult task. Detectors massively the size of a small office building are buried more than 0.6 miles (1 km) below the Earth’s crust. Depth may seem like an exaggeration; However, it is necessary to create a shield of cosmic rays that can lead to false positives.

Earth's core heat
Source: USGS

During operation, the detector can detect neutrinos when they collide with hydrogen atoms inside the device. After the collision, two bright flashes can be detected, an unambiguous announcement of the event.

By calculating the number of collisions, scientists can determine how many uranium and thorium atoms remain inside our planet.

Unfortunately, the detectors KamLAND in Japan and Borexino in Italy only detect about 16 events per year, which makes the process very slow. However, with three new detectors expected to appear online in 2020 – SNO + in Canada and Jinping and JUNO in China – researchers are expecting more than More than 500 events discovered per year.

“Once we collect three years of antinutrino data from all five detectors, we are confident that we will develop an accurate fuel gauge for the Earth and will be able to calculate the amount of fuel remaining inside the Earth,” McDonough said.

Jinping detector in China is over Four times larger From all detectors so far. Although the detector is big, JUNO’s detector will be amazing 20 times larger From All detectors present.

“Knowing exactly how much radiation energy there is in the Earth will tell us about the land’s consumption rate in the past and the future fuel budget,” McDonough said.

Earth core cooling
Source: Scott Nelson / Flickr

“By showing how quickly the planet has cooled since its birth, we can estimate how long this fuel will last.”

when Juno Comes online hopefully in 2021 – the data gathered should help scientists like McDonough estimate the time remaining to cool the Earth’s core. Until then, rest assured, any estimates made are likely to run into hundreds of millions, possibly billions, of years in the future.

Therefore, there is no need to make plans to move to a new planet anytime soon.

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