The Morning After: Scientists confirm a fifth layer inside the Earth's core

There’s a metal ‘ball’ that might explain our magnetic field.

Tear down the middle school geology posters: We have an update. A team at Australian National University (ANU) has found evidence of a new fifth layer to the planet, an iron-nickel alloy ball in the inner core. The scientists found the hidden core by studying seismic waves that travel up to five times across the Earth's diameter – previous studies only looked at single bounces. The earthquake waves probed places near the center at angles that suggested a different crystalline structure deep inside.

The ANU researchers also believe the innermost inner core hints at a major event in Earth's past that had a "significant" impact on the planet's heart. As researchers told The Washington Post, it could also help explain the formation of the Earth's magnetic field. The field plays a major role in supporting life as it shields the Earth from harmful radiation and keeps water from drifting into space.

– Mat Smith

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