Completely New Type of Magnetic Wave Discovered Sweeping Across Earth’s Outer Core

Swarm Reveals Magnetic Waves Across Earth’s Outer Core

Using information from ESA’s Swarm satellite mission, scientists have discovered a completely new type of magnetic wave that sweeps across the outermost part of Earth’s outer core every seven years. This fascinating finding opens a new window into a world we can never see. This mysterious wave oscillates every seven years and propagates westward at up to 1500 kilometers (900 miles) a year. Credit: ESA/Planetary Visions

While volcanic eruptions and earthquakes serve as immediate reminders that Earth’s interior is anything but peaceful, there are also other, more elusive, dynamic processes taking place deep down below our feet. Using information from ESA’s Swarm satellite mission, scientists have discovered a completely new type of magnetic wave that sweeps across the outermost part of Earth’s outer core every seven years. This fascinating finding, presented today at ESA’s Living Planet Symposium, opens a new window into a world we can never see.

Earth’s magnetic field is like a huge bubble protecting us from the onslaught of cosmic radiation and charged particles carried by powerful winds that escape the Sun’s gravitational pull and stream across the Solar System. Without our magnetic field, life as we know it could not exist.

Swarm Constellation

Swarm constellation. Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab

Understanding exactly how and where our magnetic field is generated, why it fluctuates constantly, how it interacts with solar wind, and, indeed, why it is currently weakening, is not only of academic interest but also of benefit to society. For example, solar storms can damage communication networks and navigation systems and satellites, so while we can’t do anything about changes in the magnetic field, understanding this invisible force helps us to be prepared.

Most of the field is generated by an ocean of superheated, swirling liquid iron that makes up Earth’s outer core 3000 km (1900 miles) under our feet. Acting like the spinning conductor in a bicycle dynamo, it generates electrical currents and the continuously changing electromagnetic field.

ESA’s Swarm mission, which comprises three identical satellites, measures these magnetic signals that stem from Earth’s core, as well as other signals that come from the crust, oceans, ionosphere, and magnetosphere.

Since the trio of Swarm satellites was launched in 2013, scientists have been analyzing their data to gain new insight into many of Earth’s natural processes, from space weather to the physics and dynamics of Earth’s stormy heart.


Using information from ESA’s Swarm satellite mission, scientists have discovered a completely new type of magnetic wave that sweeps across the outermost part of Earth’s outer core every seven years. This fascinating finding opens a new window into a world we can never see. This mysterious wave oscillates every seven years and propagates westward at up to 1500 kilometers (900 miles) a year. Credit: ESA/Planetary Visions

Measuring our magnetic field from space is the only real way of probing deep down to Earth’s core. Seismology and mineral physics provide information about the material properties of the core, but they do not shed any light on the dynamo-generating motion of the liquid outer core.

But now, using data from the Swarm mission, scientists have unearthed a hidden secret.

A paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes how a team of scientists detected a new type of magnetic wave that sweeps across the ‘surface’ of Earth’s outer core – so where the core meets the mantle. This mysterious wave oscillates every seven years and propagates westward at up to 1500 kilometers (900 miles) a year.

Nicolas Gillet, from the University Université Grenoble Alpes and lead author of the paper, said, “Geophysicists have long theorized over the existence of such waves, but they were thought to take place over much longer time scales than our research has shown.

“Measurements of the magnetic field from instruments based on the surface of Earth suggested that there was some kind of wave action, but we needed the global coverage offered by measurements from space to reveal what is actually going on.

“We combined satellite measurements from Swarm, and also from the earlier German Champ mission and Danish Ørsted mission, with a computer model of the geodynamo to explain what the ground-based data had thrown up – and this led to our discovery.”

Owing to Earth’s rotation, these waves align in columns along the axis of rotation. The motion and magnetic field changes associated with these waves are strongest near the equatorial region of the core.

While the research exhibits magneto-Coriolis waves near seven-year period, the question of the existence of such waves that would oscillate at different periods, however, remains.

Dr. Gillet added, “Magnetic waves are likely to be triggered by disturbances deep within the Earth’s fluid core, possibly related to buoyancy plumes. Each wave is specified by its period and typical length-scale, and the period depends on characteristics of the forces at play. For magneto-Coriolis waves, the period is indicative of the intensity of the magnetic field within the core.

“Our research suggests that other such waves are likely to exist, probably with longer periods – but their discovery relies on more research.”

ESA’s Swarm mission scientist, Ilias Daras, noted, “This current research is certainly going to improve the scientific model of the magnetic field within Earth’s outer core. It may also give us new insight into the electrical conductivity of the lowermost part of the mantle and also of Earth’s thermal history.”

Reference: “Satellite magnetic data reveal interannual waves in Earth’s core” by Nicolas Gillet, Felix Gerick, Dominique Jault, Tobias Schwaiger, Julien Aubert and Mathieu Istas, 21 March 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2115258119

Supported by ESA’s Science for Society program, this research was presented at ESA’s Living Planet Symposium taking place this week in Bonn, Germany. Those attending are hearing about the latest scientific findings on our planet and how observing Earth from space supports environmental research and action to combat the climate crisis. They are also hearing about novel space technologies and about the new opportunities emerging in the rapidly changing sector of Earth observation. Selected sessions are being livestreamed, see ESA’s Web TV channels.

8 Comments on "Completely New Type of Magnetic Wave Discovered Sweeping Across Earth’s Outer Core"

  1. Don’t want to be you | May 29, 2022 at 2:40 am | Reply

    Call it whenever you want to deceive the world but I know the truth and that you cannot take away. The only way you can escape the wrath and judgment that is going to take place is having the one and only living God indwell in your heart and your life and soul and it will be revealed to you as well

  2. Mike Pollock | May 29, 2022 at 4:33 am | Reply

    Whatever powers the core of this planet is not going to be a solid. It is going to be a plasma. It is going to be a minimum entropy plasma, not a maximum entropy solid. A solid is not going to be able to generate the energy needed to make liquid rock spew from the surface from a source of energy that is 4,000 miles away.
    The core of our planet is made of what is called quark plasma. This plasma uses the dark matter of space that causes gravity as its catalyst. The catalyst travels through normal matter invisibly to attack the plasma. Dark matter consists of extremely pressurized Tau neutrinos. The surface of our planet is solid but the transition zones between the quark plasma core and the surface are not. The first layer outside the quark plasma is made of neutrons, then hydrogen, then helium, and, eventually, a liquid soup of elements that the core is creating. This is why the Kola superdeep borehole emitted “boiling hydrogen” that scientists didn’t understand. This also explains the helium scientists found emanating from the surface as well that was unexplained. Our core is creating these lighter elements constantly.
    The giant structures that scientists notice moving underneath the surface are blobs of solid rock being formed in the soup above the quark plasma and below the solid surface. These objects are the size of Mount Everest if not bigger. They are what cause the differences in magnetic waves that are seen around our planet.
    Our planet began its life as a mass of quark plasma, not gas and dust. The quark plasma creates all the naturally occurring elements all by itself from the outside of the mass inward. Quark plasma is the endless energy that allows all these reactions to take place. It is quark plasma, not fusion, that is the ultimate energy of the universe. Quark plasma reactors will be what supplies humans with an unlimited energy supply very soon.

  3. This means our Earth planet is created by the ernemous energy of quark plasmas which is new to my unscientific mind.

  4. Explains Teslas theories of tapping into it for universal power generation, since everything must be energy rich to be matter. Release this Kracken for all to benefit please! Our earth dynamo is waiting. Sadly the electrical engineers are all pushed to ignore it and continue in there love of mechanical profit generating that GE and Westinghouse proposed after stealing his ideas. Thank You sir – Great Insight. That Dyson sphere will be coming – but around our earth, if we dont kill ourselves with greed and pollution first. IMO.

  5. The core is solid and this density withstands the weight of overlaying rock materials but the outer core is molten rock not plasma as said in a comment.
    My take in this is speculation that the westward movement could be undoing the accelerated motion in the molten rock seemingly created by the west to east ie. anticlockwise rotation of the earth on its axis momentum.

  6. The acceleration of these waves is greatest at the equator because; I suppose, of the centrifugal force also responsible for the bulge at the equator. This is where the speed of the rotation is fastest because the equatorial diameter is the widest compared to polar diameter etc.since all places complete a rotation in 24 hrs.

  7. Dr. Sandeep sharma | May 29, 2022 at 11:49 pm | Reply

    pls confirm about the source of energy 4000 miles away as written in the article,can email me for the answer

  8. There are more gravitational forces to be considered in our planets elliptical orbit. It needs to be modeled using the center of our galaxy (sun) as a point reference with the assumption it is fixed since satellites oscillate in an elliptical orbit as well.

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