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I have this idea for a planet whose magnetic field is not aligned with the axis of rotation as is the case for Earth (I know they're not exactly aligned, but hear me out). How plausible is this, and how would this impact life? Is there any explanation for Earth's axis of rotation being approximately coaxial with the magnetic field?

Thanks!

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Uranus's magnetic field isn't even vaguely close to being aligned with the rotational poles, and the magnetic axis doesn't even pass through the center of the planet.

So yeah, I'd say it's plausible.

We should expect Earth's magnetic field to be sort of aligned with the rotation axis because it is generated by the circulation of conductive fluid in the outer core. But, we don't know all the details of how either Earth's field or the gas giants' magnetic fields work, so no one can say right now that a terrestrial planet couldn't have a field like Uranus's.

It would not significantly impact life. The biggest change would be auroras happening in more densely habitable regions than they do on Earth.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. In fact, Earth's magnetic poles have floated around all over the place. (Check out the Historic Magnetic Declination map!) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 1, 2023 at 6:54
  • $\begingroup$ More, it's predicted (I read it somewhere in the paper books) that Earth's magnetic poles would switch pretty soon, in the meantime the field would have several of each pole on the surface. Then it said several decades, maybe the forecast has been altered since as I don't read this happening, yet I'm aware of ocean maps containing data on where the compass's arrow points relative to ship's location, maybe this is already happening, just we have shifted from field-based navigation to global positioning systems and this didn't hurt us. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ And to what would happen to life, nothing too serious but long range navigation would get all messed up, or evolve differently somehow if at all. I actually believe this field change is what introduced local bird flu to regions that did not meet that one and caused epidemics everywhere, because birds that migrate by seasons use exactly it to navigate over the water, and while they do use landmarks as correction to this, sometimes they end up too far from any known landmarks to properly return. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    Jun 1, 2023 at 9:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Vesper it's happened before, and we're overdue for such an event. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Jun 1, 2023 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ @jwenting - although it isn't like there is a printed 'flip by' date anywhere... $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 1, 2023 at 18:56

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