A jet stream within the molten iron core of our planet Earth has been detected by the scientists. Latest satellite data was used for the discovery as it helped create an X-ray view of the Earth.
The position of the jet stream aligns with a boundary between two different regions in the core, researchers from the University of Leeds in the UK have found.
The liquid in the core that moves towards this boundary from both the sides, which is squeezed out sideways, may have caused the jet.
"The European Space Agency's Swarm satellites are providing our sharpest X-ray image yet of the core. We have not only seen this jet stream clearly for the first time, but we understand why it is there," said lead researcher Phil Livermore from the University of Leeds.
"We can explain it as an accelerating band of molten iron circling the North Pole, like the jet stream in the atmosphere," said Livermore.
The core’s remote location is under 3,000 kilometres of rock. Scientists have studied the core of the Earth for many years by measuring the planet’s magnetic field – one of the few options available.
As per research in the past, the changes in the magnetic field of the Earth indicated that iron in the outer core moved faster in the northern hemisphere, mostly under Alaska and Siberia.
But the new data collected from the Swarm satellites has a different story to tell. A jet stream moving at more than 40 kilometres per year has actually caused these changes, as per the new data.
This is three times faster than typical outer core speeds and hundreds of thousands of times faster than the speed at which the Earth's tectonic plates move.
The Swarm mission of the European Space Agency features three satellites that simultaneously measure and untangle the different magnetic signals which stem from Earth's core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere.
They have provided the clearest information yet about the magnetic field created in the core.
"Of course, you need a force to move the liquid towards the boundary. This could be provided by buoyancy, or perhaps more likely from changes in the magnetic field within the core," said Rainer Hollerbach from Leeds.
"We know more about the Sun than the Earth's core. The discovery of this jet is an exciting step in learning more about our planet's inner workings," said Chris Finlay from the Technical University of Denmark.
(With inputs from PTI)