The first map of Jupiter's magnetic field at a range of depths is in, and it solidifies something we already knew: that it's really, really, really weird. Aside from that, though, it's unlike anything else planetary scientists have ever seen. We already knew that the gas giant's external magnetic field was an odd duck. For a start, it's incredibly strong. Jupiter's diameter is over 11 times that of Earth, but its magnetic field is a massive 20,000 times stronger.
It's also absolutely huge, and unrivalled in complexity - Earth's magnetic field is strong, but some of the structures seen in Jupiter's have no terrestrial counterpart. It's thought that this complexity may have something to do with Jupiter's rapid rotation and large liquid metallic hydrogen interior.
The field emerges from a broad section of the northern hemisphere, re-entering around the south pole - and a highly concentrated region just south of the equator, what the researchers are calling the Great Blue Spot. Elsewhere, the field is much weaker.
In another strange discovery, the researchers found that the non-dipolar part of the magnetic field is almost entirely concentrated in the northern hemisphere. The whole thing is deeply lopsided and utterly unique.
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