Time-Resolved Records of Magnetic Activity on the Pallasite Parent Body and Psyche

Friday, 19 December 2014: 5:15 PM
James Francis Joseph Bryson1, Claire Isobel O'Bryen Nichols1, Julia Herrero-Albillos2, Florian Kronast3, Takeshi Kasama4, Hossein Alimadadi4, Gerrit van der Laan5, Francis Nimmo6 and Richard J Harrison1, (1)University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (2)Centro Universitario de la Defensa, Zaragoza, Spain, (3)Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, BESSY II, Berlin, Germany, (4)Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark, (5)Diamond Light Soruce, Didcot, United Kingdom, (6)University of California-Santa Cruz, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Santa Cruz, CA, United States
Although many small bodies apparently generated dynamo fields in the early solar system, the nature and temporal evolution of these fields has remained enigmatic. Time-resolved records of the Earth's planetary field have been essential in understanding the dynamic history of our planet, and equivalent information from asteroids could provide a unique insight into the development of the solar system. Here we present time-resolved records of magnetic activity on the main-group pallasite parent body and (16) Psyche, obtained using newly-developed nanomagnetic imaging techniques. For the pallasite parent body, the inferred field direction remained relatively constant and the intensity was initially stable at ~100 µT before it decreased in two discrete steps down to 0 µT. We interpret this behaviour as due to vigorous dynamo activity driven by compositional convection in the core, ultimately transitioning from a dipolar to multipolar field as the inner core grew from the bottom-up. For Psyche (measured from IVA iron meteorites), the inferred field direction reversed, while the intensity remained stable at >50 µT. Psyche cooled rapidly as an unmantled core, although the resulting thermal convection alone cannot explain these observations. Instead, this behaviour required top-down core solidification, and is attributed either to compositional convection (if the core also solidified from the bottom-up) or convection generated directly by top-down solidification (e.g. Fe-snow). The mechanism governing convection in small body cores is an open question (due partly to uncertainties in the direction of core solidification), and these observations suggest that unconventional (i.e. not thermal) mechanisms acted in the early solar system. These mechanisms are very efficient at generating convection, implying a long-lasting and widespread epoch of dynamo activity among small bodies in the early solar system.