EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Dynamo models reproducing the offset dipole of Mercury’s magnetic field

Patrick Kolhey1, Daniel Heyner1, Johannes Wicht2, Thomas Gastine3, and Ferdinand Plaschke1
Patrick Kolhey et al.
  • 1Institut für Geophysik und extraterrestrische Physik, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany (
  • 2Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, Germany
  • 3Université de Paris, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, CNRS , Paris, France

Since the discovery of Mercury’s peculiar magnetic field it has raised questions about the underlying dynamo process in its fluid core. The global magnetic field at the surface is rather weak compared to other planetary magnetic fields, strongly aligned to the planet's rotation axis and its magnetic equator is shifted towards north. Especially the latter characteristic is difficult to explain using common dynamo model setups. One promising model suggests that a thermal stably stratified layer right underneath the core-mantle boundary is present. As a consequence the magnetic field deep inside the core is efficiently damped by passing through the stably stratified layer due to the skin effect. Additionally, the non-axisymmetric parts of the magnetic field are vanishing, too, such that a dipole dominated magnetic is left at the planet’s surface. In this study we present new direct numerical simulations of the magnetohydrodynamical dynamo problem which include a stably stratified layer on top of the outer core, which can also reproduce the shift of the magnetic equator towards north. We revisit a model configuration for Mercury’s dynamo action, which successfully reproduced the magnetic field features, in which core convection is driven by thermal buoyancy as well as compositional buoyancy (double-diffusive convection). While we find that this model configuration produces Mercury-like magnetic field only in a limited parameter range (Rayleigh and Ekman number), we show that also a simple codensity model is sufficient over a wide parameter range to produce Mercury-like magnetic fields.

How to cite: Kolhey, P., Heyner, D., Wicht, J., Gastine, T., and Plaschke, F.: Dynamo models reproducing the offset dipole of Mercury’s magnetic field, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8532,, 2022.