Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Shielding From The Solar Wind: Implications for Habitability

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 25, 2015
Filed under ,
Shielding From The Solar Wind: Implications for Habitability

The onset and nature of the earliest geomagnetic field is important for understanding the evolution of the core, atmosphere and
life on Earth.

A record of the early geodynamo is preserved in ancient silicate crystals containing minute magnetic inclusions. These data indicate the presence of a geodynamo during the Paleoarchean, between 3.4 and 3.45 billion years ago. While the magnetic field sheltered Earth’s atmosphere from erosion at this time, standoff of the solar wind was greatly reduced, and similar to that during modern extreme solar storms. These conditions suggest that intense radiation from the young Sun may have modified the atmosphere of the young Earth by promoting loss of volatiles, including water. Such effects would have been more pronounced if the field were absent or very weak prior to 3.45 billion years ago, as suggested by some models of lower mantle evolution. The frontier is thus trying to obtain geomagnetic field records that are >>3.45 billion-years-old, as well as constraining solar wind pressure for these times.

In this review we suggest pathways for constraining these parameters and the attendant history of Earth’s deep interior, hydrosphere and atmosphere. In particular, we discuss new estimates for solar wind pressure for the first 700 million years of Earth history, the competing effects of magnetic shielding versus solar ion collection, and bounds on the detection level of a geodynamo imposed by the presence of external fields. We also discuss the prospects for constraining Hadean-Paleoarchean magnetic field strength using paleointensity analyses of zircons.

Comments: 78 pages, 8 figures, Supplementary Content: Reconstructing the Past Sun + table of solar parameters from ZAMS to present through geological time

Detecting the Oldest Geodynamo and attendant shielding from the solar wind: Implications for habitability

John A. Tarduno, Eric G. Blackman, Eric E. Mamajek (Submitted on 16 Feb 2015)

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Journal reference: Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 2014, Volume 233, p. 68-87 D OI: 10.1016/j.pepi.2014.05.007

Cite as: arXiv:1502.04410 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1502.04410v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Eric E. Mamajek [v1] Mon, 16 Feb 2015 03:01:47 GMT (3209kb,D) http://arxiv.org/abs/1502.04410

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.