Photo: Liquid Mercury: Tiny Planet Has Molten Core



A diagram (top) shows Mercury's metallic core, which makes up a relatively large portion of the planet. New research suggests that the core is molten, despite previous beliefs that the planet lost too much heat to maintain a liquid center.

Another diagram (bottom) shows how scientists beamed radio waves (yellow) to look at the patterns reflected back (red) using ground-based telescopes. The patterns show that Mercury's spin fluctuates in a way that means the planet likely has a liquid core.

Top image courtesy Nicolle Ragger Fuller, National Science Foundation; bottom image courtesy Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF


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