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Thread: Is Our Hyper Sun Signalling "Something" Incoming?

  1. #1
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    Is Our Hyper Sun Signalling "Something" Incoming?

    Just wondering...

    BOULDER, Colo., Nov. 22 Snapping like rubber bands pulled too tightly, tangled magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun have been spewing waves of radiation and superheated particles at Earth...The culprits this year are three volatile sunspots that began erupting last month and set off blackouts in Sweden, damaged satellites and forced some airlines to divert flights from polar routes to escape extra radiation...after a three-week lull while the Sun's rotation spun them out of view, the sunspots are back within striking distance. The one with the potential to produce the most fireworks, Region 507, is expected to fix its sights squarely on Earth just as Thanksgiving arrives. While all three have decayed a bit, 507 is still roughly eight times the size of Earth..."
    http://makeashorterlink.com/?C2B6554A6
    [link is NY Times---free membership required]

  2. #2
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    And what would this "something" be? Sol's a big boy. Sunspots that are eight times the diameter of Earth are not rare. The sunspots will run their course, and things with be nominal again. Not that anything went horribly wrong in the last salvo.

  3. #3
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    And what would this "something" be?
    Well, I don't know; just seems like an unusual amount of activity going on for this part of its cycle, or is it?

  4. #4
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    I haven't seen sunspots this active before, but I do not think they are something to be worried aboot. There are almost always sunspots present on the "surface" of Sol. The spots are diminishing in size. I would like to find out what caused the spots to get so active, though.

  5. #5
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    I'm not convinced... :wink:

    just seems like an unusual amount of activity going on for this part of its cycle, or is it?
    Well, yeah, it is a bit unusual, so...?!

    Doesn't mean anything weird is going on, just that we don't yet fully understand solar weather. Like if a big storm hit your area at a normally quiet time of the year! Just a bit out of the ordinary, that's all.

  6. #6
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    It's an electro-magnetic system is it not---Earth's relationship to the Sun?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarongsong
    And what would this "something" be?
    Well, I don't know; just seems like an unusual amount of activity going on for this part of its cycle, or is it?
    Define "unusual," statistically speaking. The sun is 5 billion years old. We've been collecting detailed data on it for how long?

  8. #8
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    Solar activity

    Let me preface this by observing that the solar flares of late October, while record setting, were not something to get overly worried about. Helios (I'm Greek, so I shun the latinism Sol) is only two years from the sunspot maximum and, while it's on the downslope, it has several years to go before reaching the minimum.

    That being said, there is apparently some evidence that the last 60 years have been unusually active. This article appeared in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters. The link is to the abstract, you need to pay or have a subscription to get the article. I have the latter, haven't read it yet. They used beryllium 10 concentrations in polar ice to estimate the sun's activity level over the last 1000 years or so. While not perfect, there is pretty compelling evidence for high activity.

    Now, the article doensn't go into woowoo TEOTWAWKI speculations (this is PRL after all, not the WWN), and it doesn't support them in any case. Of more interest are possible connections to weather and global warming. Since the actual impact of the sun's activity on the weather is still vague, it's hard to establish a connection. I also wouldn't use it as evidence that something a-la PX is causing "unusual activity." There's nothing to support that. (Not to mention that a "rouge planet" would cause other effects such as disrupted orbits that we have defintely not observed.) Rather, this is a new insight into the sun's long-term dynamical behavior.
    "I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind." - William Thompson, 1st Baron Lord Kelvin

    "If it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be, but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic!" - Tweedledee

    This isn't right. This isn't even wrong. - Wolfgang Pauli

  9. #9
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    You're right, of course, compared to 5 billion years any citeable statistics would be laughable. Is there a force that COULD disturb the Sun's "normal" equilibrium enough to produce a CME?

  10. #10
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    If you had another star nearby, perhaps. But don't take my word on it. It'd have to be within solar mass...

  11. #11
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    Perhaps it's just something equivalent to the Maunder Minimum back in the 1600's, but opposite? I don't know it means that anything is wrong.

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    Thanks; had not heard of the Maunder Minimum before:
    "...Very few sunspots were observed from about 1645 to 1715, and when they were, their presence was noted as a noteworthy event by active astronomers. At that time, a systematic solar observing program was underway under the direction of Jean Dominique Cassini (1625-1712) at the newly founded Observatoire de Paris, with first Picard and later Philippe La Hire carrying out the bulk of the observations. Historical reconstructions of sunspot numbers indicate that the dearth of sunspots is real, rather than the consequence of a lack of diligent observers. A simultaneous decrease in auroral counts further suggest that solar activity was greatly reduced during this time period..."
    http://www.hao.ucar.edu/public/educa...moments.2.html

  13. #13
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    Yep. I believe that there were years with NO sunspots at all during that period. So I would expect that the current cycle, if anything significant, would be closer to an opposite of that.

  14. #14
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    Does the Sun have pole flips? What effects would such a flip produce?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oops
    Does the Sun have pole flips? What effects would such a flip produce?
    The Sun's magnetic poles flip every solar maximum, about every eleven years. The rotational axes do not flip, or at least it would take something catastrophic to make them do so.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  16. #16
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    How soon we forget...

    I think the way the recent solar activity has been presented, as well as how even some legitimate scientists are doing so, gives an entirely wrong impression of the facts. While there is no question the level of sunspot activity itself is notable, as are the associated ejections, the presence of sunspots outside of solar maximum is all too often being portrayed as unheard of or remarkable - when it fact, it is quite the opposite.

    As a point of fact, we have been observing the sun and measuring sunspot activity for over 250 years. I will instead of reproducing information here, link to this page. Of particular interest is this plot showing sunspot numbers. Far more than the raw data, this format clearly shows secondary peaks of activity on the downslope of solar maximum. Consistently. 2 to 4 years following maximum, we see significant counter-trend increases or spikes in sunspot numbers, as the sun heads towards minimum. The popular media - including many astronomers - have been acting like the sunspot activity itself is an anomaly, when it certainly is not. Yes, the details and specific attributes of the related solar activity overall deserve some examination and attention, but I can't help but feeling people are being mislead or misinformed for the sake of sensationalism.

    I should point out that I am not saying that something unusual is not going on. Only that it's nature isn't being expressed clearly enough, with some established facts going unmentioned.

    And yes, people sometimes forget that the size of our data sample is VERY small compared to the sun's lifetime. There is some suggestion, with interesting research behind it, that what we are perceiving as an unusual increase in solar activity (as well as an increase in global temperatures on earth), is not the sun 'getting hotter' or radiating more than it should be, but a 'return to normal' - and that our several hundred years of direct observation, as well as the longer record of indirect evidence, is what represents the anomaly. That the sun has been 'colder' of late, and is returning to it's baseline. A sobering concept outside of the disaster scenario realm, simply because it reminds one that when it comes to scales of time, our particular purview is very limited and short.

  17. #17
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    "Solar hiccupping might cause the periodic flips observed in the Sun's magnetic field, say researchers. The star's switches come after a lull in storms at its poles.
    Every 11 years or so, the solar magnetic field reverses, and the poles switch places. The last switch happened in 1999...
    Physicists think that the cycle is 11 years long because that's how long it takes for matter to flow from the Sun's equator to its poles...equatorial storms can knock out Earth satellites and electrical equipment, polar ones point away from us and so pose no threat. In fact, by cocooning the planets with charged particles, they shield the Solar System from harmful cosmic rays."
    http://www.nature.com/nsu/031117/031117-9.html

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