Wednesday, April 10, 2013

1304.2437 (Joost van Summeren et al.)

Magnetodynamo Lifetimes for Rocky, Earth-Mass Exoplanets with Contrasting Mantle Convection Regimes    [PDF]

Joost van Summeren, Eric Gaidos, Clinton P. Conrad
We used a thermal model of an iron core to calculate magnetodynamo evolution in Earth-mass rocky planets to determine the sensitivity of dynamo lifetime and intensity to planets with different mantle tectonic regimes, surface temperatures, and core properties. The heat flow at the core-mantle boundary (CMB) is derived from numerical models of mantle convection with a viscous/pseudo-plastic rheology that captures the phenomenology of plate-like tectonics. Our thermal evolution models predict a long-lived (~8 Gyr) field for Earth and similar dynamo evolution for Earth-mass exoplanets with plate tectonics. Both elevated surface temperature and pressure-dependent mantle viscosity reduce the CMB heat flow but produce only slightly longer-lived dynamos (~8-9.5 Gyr). Single-plate ("stagnant lid") planets with relatively low CMB heat flow produce long-lived (~10.5 Gyr) dynamos. These weaker dynamos can cease for several billions of years and subsequently reactivate due to the additional entropy production associated with inner core growth, a possible explanation for the absence of a magnetic field on present-day Venus. We also show that dynamo operation is sensitive to the initial temperature, size, and solidus of a planet's core. These dependencies would severely challenge any attempt to distinguish exoplanets with plate tectonics and stagnant lids based on the presence or absence of a magnetic field.
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