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Dr. Robert Mallozzi/University of Alabama in Huntsville

Top 5 Facts: Natural magnets

Dr. Robert Mallozzi/University of Alabama in Huntsville

Dr. Robert Mallozzi/University of Alabama in Huntsville

Magnetite

This iron oxide mineral, also known as lodestone (translated as ‘course stone’), was once used as a primitive compass, as it can be found naturally magnetised.

Pyrrhotite

The most common naturally magnetic mineral after magnetite, some pyrrhotite specimens have a weak amount of magnetism, enough to attract a paper clip.

Hematite

Often considered to be non-magnetic, atoms within a hematite crystal are seen to align with one another very slightly, indicating a tiny magnetic force.

Earth

The Earth acts as a magnet due to electric currents in the core, similar to an electromagnet, but its magnetic field is 100 times weaker than a fridge magnet.

Magnetar

Often referred to as the most powerful magnet in the universe, if this rotating star came within 100,000 miles of Earth it would wipe every single one of our credit cards. Of course, the repercussions of an object this massive being close to Earth, other than the magnetic forces, would probably be much more devastating… There’s no need to worry, though, as the nearest one is 13,000 light years away.