Strange magnetic anomalies on the moon can finally be explained

(ORDO NEWS) — The small, frozen and silent Moon has a surprising distribution of magnetic fingerprints on its dusty surface, not all of which are easily explained.

A new study led by geologist Zhuang Guo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geochemistry may help us better understand unusually strong magnetic field readings that don’t match other characteristics of the moon.

Guo’s team analyzed the lunar soil and returned to Earth in December 2020. The Chang’e-5 probe found particles of a mineral known as magnetite, which is rare in lunar mud samples.

“Lunar magnetic anomalies have been a mystery since the Age of Apollo,” write Guo and colleagues in a published paper.

“Therefore, a deep understanding of the mechanism of formation and distribution characteristics of magnetite on the Moon can help open up a new perspective to explain the genesis of magnetic anomalies in the lunar crust.”

Magnetite, a highly magnetic iron ore, has been found in submicroscopic spherical iron sulfide grains that resemble molten droplets.

Further thermodynamic modeling suggests that the magnetite in these grains is the result of violent collisions with the lunar surface.

For planetary scientists, the presence of magnetite is crucial: it can be used to track magnetic fields in history. , and identifying potential indicators of life are the two most important topics of discussion for any planet or moon.

Based on their findings, the researchers believe that magnetite may be widespread in the thinnest lunar soil, too.

The unexplained magnetic anomalies on the Moon could now be more easily understood if our simulations were adjusted to reflect the findings of this new study.

Unlike soil on Earth, the lunar regolith is extremely reduced, that is, it contains an excess of electrons due to the constant bombardment of protons emanating from the Sun. This condition makes it difficult for iron to combine with oxygen to form ores, as happens here.

This doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Tiny grains of magnetite had previously been found in lunar dust, but these studies suggested that magnetite formed at relatively low temperatures, rather than the high pressure and high temperature conditions of an impactor crashing into the lunar surface, as this new work suggests.

“Features of the morphology of iron sulfide grains and the distribution of oxygen suggest that during large impacts, a gas-melt phase reaction occurred,” the researchers explain.

Previous research has suggested that meteorites may have injected ferromagnetic materials onto the lunar surface on impact, and the projectiles explained at least some of the magnetic anomalies near impact sites.

This new study goes one step further by finding that the fury of these impacts could also have turned the materials into submicroscopic magnetite, making them “an important source of ferromagnetic material on the lunar surface.”

In other words, the results show that this mineral is more widely distributed. t on the Moon’s surface, and this in turn changes our understanding of how the Moon evolved over time.

The team suggests that the current magnetization of the Moon’s surface, along with the presence of these minerals, may help explain how impacts from large objects gave rise to the lunar magnetic field.

“These formation conditions lead to a correspondence between the distribution of magnetic anomalies in the lunar crust and distal ejecta of large impacts,” the researchers conclude.


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