Earth's core stopped, started spinning in the opposite direction! Planet in crisis? | Tech News

Earth's core stopped, started spinning in the opposite direction! Planet in crisis?

The Earth's core may well have stopped and it has even changed direction, says this new study.

| Updated on: Jan 25 2023, 13:58 IST
6 TERRIFYING solar storms that blasted Earth in 2022
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1/6 On June 29, a surprise solar storm struck the Earth. The solar storm was not caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) but by a corotating interaction region (CIR), which opened a hole in the Earth's magnetosphere. It was a G1-class solar storm which is capable of causing shortwave radio blackouts and GPS disruptions. Interestingly, it coincided with the rare five planet alignment event.  (NASA)
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2/6 Extremely rare pink auroras could be seen on November 3 near Greenland, after a G1-class solar storm slammed into the Earth. Solar storms usually give a greenish hue due to ionizing of Oxygen atoms. However, the CME in this case was able to reach the lower strata of the atmosphere which ionized Nitrogen atoms and gave off the rare pink aura.  (Representative Photo) (Pixabay)
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3/6 On November 6, a powerful solar flare which was estimated to be an X-class solar flare caused temporary radio blackouts in Australia and New Zealand. The resultant solar storm blocked all high frequency radio waves making it hard for various emergency services and airlines that use radio communications to operate for multiple hours.  (Pixabay)
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4/6 On August 7 and 8, a mysterious phenomenon was seen after a solar storm strike which scientists call STEVE (strong thermal emission velocity enhancement). A gigantic ribbon of purple light followed by a wave of green light could be seen in many parts of North America.   (@KaniskiDylan / Twitter)
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5/6 A rare double solar storm attack was seen on March 14 when a G2-class solar storm was quickly followed up with another G1-class solar storm. Scientists believe that such multiple solar storm attacks are going to be more frequent in coming days as the Sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle. (Pixabay)
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6/6 On October 25, the Sun seemed to beam a smile at Earth even as it spewed a stream of dangerous solar particles towards our planet. Multiple dark regions popped up on the Sun that gave an uncanny impression of a smiley face. The resultant solar storm from the event was noted to be a G2-class which is so strong that it is capable of causing fluctuations in electricity grids on Earth.  (SDO/AIA)
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Earth's inner core is a massive, solid ball made of iron and nickel metals. Study says it could have stopped and reversed direction. (NASA)

Earth is composed of four main layers, starting with an inner core at the planet's center, enveloped by the outer core, mantle, and right on top is the crust. The inner core is a solid sphere made of iron and nickel metals about 1221 kilometers (about the distance from Florida to New York City) in radius, according to NASA. It is the innermost layer of our planet, and it plays a crucial role in maintaining the planet's overall stability and magnetic field. Even though it is deep beneath the Earth's surface, the core is an integral part of the planet. However, there might be cause for concern as a study reveals it may have stopped and started spinning in the opposite direction.

The team of researchers conducted the study by analyzing seismic waves from earthquakes which have rocked the Earth for the past 60 years. It was published in the Nature Geoscience journal. Researchers Xiaodong Song and Yi Yang of China's Peking University, who were authors of the study, discovered that the Earth's core came to a standstill back in 2009 and then started spinning in the opposite direction.

"We believe the inner core rotates, relative to the Earth's surface, back and forth, like a swing," they told AFP. According to them, one cycle of the swing movement lasts about 70 years. This means the Earth's core changes its direction of spin every 35 years. It previously changed direction in the 1970s and the next change could occur in the 2040s.

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Although there is little indication of any major impact of this change on the people living on the surface of the planet, the researchers believe all the layers of the planet are connected.

However, experts who are not involved in the study expressed their concern over the findings as none of the current models can explain all of the data properly.

What if Earth's inner core changes direction

If the Earth's inner core were to change its direction, it would likely have significant effects on the planet's magnetic field, which is generated by the motion of liquid iron in the outer core. This could potentially cause disruptions to weather patterns and satellite and power grid operations, as well as increase the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface.

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First Published Date: 25 Jan, 13:46 IST