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The underexplored frontier of ice giant dynamos (Invited speaker)

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DY2W01 - Dynamos in planets and stars - similarities and differences

The Voyager 2 flybys of Uranus and Neptune in the 1980’s revealed the first non-dipole-dominated planetary magnetic fields and highlighted how much we have yet to learn about these putative ice giant planets. In this presentation, we will summarize observations of Uranus’ and Neptune’s magnetic fields and place them in context of other planetary and stellar dynamos. Numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain the multipolar magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune, although no models are yet able to fully explain their observed magnetic fields. With new advances in ice giant internal structure models and material properties at high pressures and temperatures, we will show preliminary results that investigate the interplay between electrical conductivity and density stratification to determine under what circumstances ice giant-like dynamos are obtained. With an eye towards both planets and stars, we will also consider the influence of the bulk magnetic Prandtl number on dynamos that are moderately constrained by rotation. Finally, we will discuss future directions necessary to answer outstanding questions about the dynamos of ice giant planets, both within our solar system and beyond.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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