A recent X-ray analysis of molten iron has uncovered that the Earth’s inner core is actually a lot hotter than we all thought previously. According to a team scientists from French research agency CEA, French National Center for Scientific Research CNRS, and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility ESRF, the inner core of the Earth is said to be 6,000 degrees Celsius, or 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
This means that the inner core of the planet that we live on is as hot as the surface of the Sun. The Earth’s core is made of solid, crystalline iron that’s surrounded by liquid. This is formed due to the tremendous amount of pressure buildup. However, recent experiments have shown that this inner structure is actually formed at much higher temperatures.
Previous estimates, which took place in the 90s, were achieved by measuring iron’s melting curves, and this placed the core temperature at 5,000 degrees Celsius. However, this new technique utilizes fast X-ray diffraction, and it allows researchers to examine tiny samples of iron at immense pressures to get a better sense of how small iron crystals form and melt.
However, the real challenge was to replicate that crazy amounts of pressure that’s experienced in the Earth’s inner core, which are obviously hard to replicate on the Earth’s surface. However, scientists were able to get close, using high-powered lasers. The iron samples were placed under high pressure from two diamonds squeezing the iron together, and then they were blasted by lasers, which turned the iron into liquid form, where scientists then observed the diffraction period to come up with a final number.
[via BBC News]