Mercury's weak magnetic field: A result of magnetospheric feedback?



[1] The internal magnetic field of Mercury is anomalously weak compared with the fields of other solar system dynamos. Here we investigate the effect that magnetospheric currents may have on the internal dynamo process. Although strong dipolar dynamos are not markedly affected by such magnetospheric currents, a dynamo in a weak-dipole state can be stabilized in such a configuration by magnetospheric feedback. We suggest that Mercury's core dynamo was stabilized in a weak-field state early in Mercury's history, when the solar wind was much stronger than today, and has been maintained in that state to the present by magnetospheric feedback. A prediction of this scenario is that secular variation should occur more rapidly for Mercury's internal field than would be expected for some other models for the planet's weak field.