An Ancient Core Dynamo in Asteroid Vesta

Science  12 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6104, pp. 238-241
DOI: 10.1126/science.1225648

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The asteroid Vesta is the smallest known planetary body that has experienced large-scale igneous differentiation. However, it has been previously uncertain whether Vesta and similarly sized planetesimals formed advecting metallic cores and dynamo magnetic fields. Here we show that remanent magnetization in the eucrite meteorite Allan Hills A81001 formed during cooling on Vesta 3.69 billion years ago in a surface magnetic field of at least 2 microteslas. This field most likely originated from crustal remanence produced by an earlier dynamo, suggesting that Vesta formed an advecting liquid metallic core. Furthermore, the inferred present-day crustal fields can account for the lack of solar wind ion-generated space weathering effects on Vesta.

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