In the earth’s crust, temperatures have remained relatively stable throughout the year. However, farther down, where the Earth’s core is located, the scenario may not be as nice. Scientists have been working hard to find out how much more time the Earth’s core lies ahead.
So the question that arises is how much time is left before the core of our planet runs out of fuel?
Exorbitant temperatures in the Earth's core
As we know, the Earth's core is an essential part for us to be able to live here. In addition to other features, it is one of the protective elements with which we are equipped to survive solar radiation.
So, scientists believe that the Earth's core exceeds 10,000 degrees Celsius. That is, it reaches temperatures higher than those found on the Sun's surface.
According to some studies, these temperatures result from a combination of some factors. Thus, the decomposition of the former radioactive elements, the remaining heat from planetary formation and the heat released as the liquid outer core solidifies near its limit with the inner core will be at stake.
In addition, the Earth's core remains warm thanks to two different sources of "fuel". On the one hand, the energy left by the formation of the planet. On the other hand, the nuclear energy that exists due to natural radioactive decomposition.
This is because the formation of the planet occurred at a time when the solar system was full of energy. That is, at that time the Earth was full of volcanic activity.
Contrary to the crust and mantle, which are very rich in minerals, the Earth's core is thought to be composed almost entirely of metal, specifically iron and nickel.
How long will the Earth's core live?
Despite being incredibly hot, scientists are trying to figure out how long the Earth's core will last with these exorbitant temperatures. A group from University of Maryland claims to be able to unravel the issue in a four-year horizon.
Conducting the tectonic movement of the Earth's plate and feeding its magnetic field requires a giant amount of energy. This energy comes exactly from the Earth's core. However, scientists argue that the core is cooling very slowly.
Although the primordial heat has largely dissipated, there is another form of heat to heat the Earth's crust and mantle. Naturally, there are large amounts of radioactive material in the depths of the Earth, with some of it residing around the crust. During the natural process of decomposition of this material, heat is released.
That said, scientists know that heat flows from the Earth's interior to space. However, they do not know how much of that heat is paramount.
Lifetime of the Earth's core difficult to calculate
So, scientists are faced with two distinct sides of the coin: if the heat is predominantly primordial, the Earth will cool faster; if created in part by radioactive decay, the Earth's heat will last longer.
At this point, despite the estimated amount of fuel left to power the planet's mechanisms, the results differ widely. So, the amount of primordial and radioactive energy that is effectively left in the Earth's core is unknown.
To detect how much fuel is left, scientists use advanced sensors to detect some subatomic particles. These are generated from nuclear reactions that occur inside stars, supernovae, black holes and nuclear reactors of human origin.
Therefore, the massive detectors are buried more than a kilometer in the earth's crust. So, despite being an extremely difficult job, the detector can identify the particles when they collide with hydrogen atoms inside the device.
After counting the number of collisions, scientists are able to determine the number of uranium and thorium atoms remaining on the planet. Unfortunately, the existing detectors detect only 16 events per year and make the process too slow. However, scientists hope that technological advances will change this reality.
By showing how quickly the planet has cooled since its birth, we can estimate how long this fuel will last.
Said Wiliiam McDonough, professor of geology at the University of Maryland.
Although it seems like a worrying scenario, the truth is that the process would take billions of years. In addition, the Sun will likely disappear long before the Earth's core, in about 5 billion years.