Scientists discover massive solid metal ball inside Earth's core
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Featured Image Credit: Drew Whitehouse, Son Phạm and Hrvoje Tkalčic / NASA
Scientists have discovered that there is a solid metal ball at the centre of the Earth.
Seismologists at the Australian National University now believe that this new core was created following a ‘significant global event from the past’.
Thanh-Son Phạm and Hrvoje Tkalčić discovered the solid metal core by studying specific earthquakes and monitoring 'seismic waves reverberating through the entire planet'.
Amazingly, this led to them spotting details about the core which had previously gone unnoticed as they were able to study the core in a new way.
Not only were they able confirm the existence of a solid metal core, also known as an ‘innermost inner core’ or IMIC, they also made another surprising discovery.
They now estimate that inner metal core is approximately 800 miles in diameter, making up nearly one per cent of the Earth’s volume, which is far bigger than other scientists had previously predicted.
After publishing their findings in Nature, Thanh-Son Phạm, later told The Washington Post: “Clearly, the innermost inner core has something different from the outer layer."
Despite still being made of same materials to the molten core, this solid metal inner core may also have different properties, explained the scientist.
“We think that the way the atoms are [packed] in these two regions are slightly different,” he said, adding this means seismic waves travel through it at a different rate.
If that wasn’t enough, the researchers also believe that this solid metal core could be key to understanding how life evolved on planet earth.
They added that the metal inner core could be a ‘fossilised record’ of a significant tectonic event, with the core solidifying shortly afterwards.
Writing in The Conversation, the researchers said: “Studying Earth’s center is not just a topic of academic curiosity, but something that sheds light on the very evolution of life on our planet’s surface."
It’s not the only major scientific announcement made in the last few weeks.
Another team of seismologists have discovered that the earth’s core may have briefly stopped spinning and reversed direction.
They discovered this after noticing 'anomalies' between the core and the mantle, which dated back to the early 1970s.
Scientists are now theorising that this change occurs every 70 years, in what they describe as a ‘tug of war’ within the Earth’s core.