Another argument against planetary influence on solar activity bites the dust

Posted: May 28, 2012 by Rog Tallbloke in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cycles, Electro-magnetism, Incompetence, Politics, Solar physics, solar system dynamics

In the at times bad tempered thread on WUWT  six weeks ago covering Cornelis  de Jager and Dirk Callebaut’s paper “The influence of planetary attractions on the solar tachocline” which attempted to dismiss the possibility of planetary tidal effects on solar activity we were assured by Leif Svalgaard that:

 Unfortunately no effects on planets around other stars on stellar activity have yet been found. See the final slides of
But this research is still ongoing, so perhaps one day we will get the final proof/disproff (sic) of this…

Leif went on to say:

 althoung (sic) I have already gotten arguments from various sides that our solar system is unique in just the right combination of planets, etc, and that therefore only in our system will the planets drive solar activity. So strong is the belief in the planetary hypothesis than it, almost by definition, becomes impossible to falsify. Go figure…

This is fairly typical of the rhetorical technique Leif Svalgaard uses to try to discredit our line of research, and does him little credit in my opinion. Be that as it may, it now turns out that he doesn’t know his own field as well as he thinks he does.

Nicola Scafetta has drawn my attention to a paper by Gurdemir et al which draws on research going back to the turn of the millenium. The paper discusses planetary induced variation in the host star’s chromosphere first directly observed in 2003 in various wavelengths. Here’s the cite and abstract:

Planet-Induced Emission Enhancements in HD 179949: Results from McDonald Observations

L. Gurdemir A, S. Redfield B and M. Cuntz A C

A Department of Physics, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019, USA
B Astronomy Department, Van Vleck Observatory, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 06459, USA
C Corresponding author.

Australian Journal of Chemistry -
Submitted: 17 December 2011  Accepted: 16 February 2012   Published online: 2 April 2012


We monitored the CaII H and K lines of HD 179949, a notable star in the southern hemisphere, to observe and confirm previously identified planet induced emission (PIE) as an effect of star–planet interaction. We obtained high resolution spectra (R ~ 53 000) with a signal-to-noise ratio S/N>  50 in the CaII H and K cores during 10 nights of observation at the McDonald Observatory. Wide-band echelle spectra were taken using the 2.7-m telescope. Detailed statistical analysis of CaII K revealed fluctuations in the CaII K core attributable to planet induced chromospheric emission. This result is consistent with previous studies by Shkolnik et al. (2003). Additionally, we were able to confirm the reality and temporal evolution of the phase shift of the maximum of star–planet interaction previously found. However, no identifiable fluctuations were detected in the CaII  H core. The AlI λ3944 Å line was also monitored to gauge if the expected activity enhancements are confined to the chromospheric layer. Our observations revealed some variability, which is apparently unassociated with planet-induced activity.

Keywords: planet-star interactions — radiation mechanisms: nonthermal — stars: activity — stars: chromospheres — stars: individual (HD 179949) — stars: late-type
The full paper is available here.
A couple of quotes:

“interaction between the planet and stellar atmospheric structure has been identified
that is often broadly classified as “planet-induced (stellar) emission” (PIE). The reality of this phenomenon
has been proposed by Cuntz et al. (2000)”

“The PIE effect was subsequently discovered by Shkolnik et al. (2003) in regard to the HD 179949 system using highresolution (R = 110, 000) and high signal-to-noise ratio spectra based on three observing runs at the CanadaFrance-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). They also concluded that the PIE effect is expected to be magnetic in nature rather than caused by gravitational star-planet interaction.”

“This latter finding is consistent with the interpretation that the PIE effect is due to magnetic star-planet interaction presumably facilitated along the Parker spiral of the stellar wind.”


“Subsequent work was pursued by Shkolnik et al. (2005), Shkolnik et al. (2008) and others, resulting in the identification of the PIE effect in at least six systems, which are: HD 209458, υ And, τ Boo, HD 179949, HD 189733, and HD 73526. The latter study also provides evidence of the on/off nature of the PIE effect, also previously found in the υ And system (Shkolnik et al. 2008), which according to the authors is likely attributable to the changing stellar magnetic field structure throughout the stellar activity cycle (e.g. Lanza 2010). An alternative or supplementary explanation of the significant time dependent variations of the PIE phenomena refers to the flare-type nature of the interaction (e.g. Saar et al. 2004; McIvor et al. 2006).”

Nicola Scafetta’s recent paper disposed of Leif Svalgaard and Callebaut & de Jager’s objections based on the small size of the vertical tides induced by the planets. Now Gurdemir et al have disposed of Leif’s incorrect assertion that planetary effects from large exoplanets close to host stars haven’t been observed. I wonder how many more of his erroneous arguments we’ll have to deal with before large numbers of people start to realise that there is a very strong possibility stellar activity is modulated by planetary motion and interaction in our own solar system.

  1. tchannon says:

    Mildly amused but I tend to ignore Leif.

    Set that aside, the meat here is good suggestion there is activity elsewhere which can be interpreted as planetary.

  2. Doug Proctor says:

    From the minds that consider thinking non-orthodox thoughts consitutes a summation as “far-out theories and transcendent rants”.

    Even the non-PC are PC. (Please consider.)

  3. tallbloke says:

    “Even the non-PC are PC”

    Doug: The idea that other disciplines such as solar physics have remained untouched by the corruption we have seen in Climate science is naive. It’s clear to anyone who has followed the climate wars that solar physics has been ‘leant on’ to create a narrative consistent with that of the mainstream climate liars like the late Stephen Schneider. And Stanford is still one of the principal centres of climate alarmism.

  4. Richard111 says:

    I always wondered what ‘PIE in the sky’ meant. Now I know. :-)

  5. tallbloke says:

    Richard: Lol :)

    Well hopefully, “planet-induced (stellar) emission” (PIE) will become an important field of study which Anthony Watts won’t choose to ignore any longer, despite Leif’s erroneous protestations and misdirections.

  6. Brian H says:

    Actually, PI(S)E in the Skies isn’t bad, either!


  7. Hans says:

    Thanks TB for informing about this serious, interesting, careful, complicated and important work from a distant star. Still, it is not necessary to go that far to get the proper information about PIE as long as we can study the dynamics of solar activity and realize that it depends on planetary dynamics and not any uncheckable disturbances originating from inside sun.

    Solar energy originates from inside sun but not the disturbances in the energy flow passing the solar surface on its path to space.

  8. tallbloke says:

    “Still, it is not necessary to go that far to get the proper information about PIE”

    Hans I agree. But when Leif uses the alleged non-observation of exo-planetary effects on other stars as an argument against the solar-planetary theory, the record must be corrected.

    “Solar energy originates from inside sun but not the disturbances in the energy flow passing the solar surface on its path to space.”

    And if Scafetta is heading in a good direction, the internal mechanism which produces solar energy amplifies the disturbances caused by planetary tidal action. Alongside the electromagnetic effect proposed by this paper, which matches well with the correlations between planetary alignment along the Parker Spiral and the timing of solar cycles observed in our own solar system, we have a potential explanation for the amplitude of cycles as well as their phase.

    Tim C is working on an interesting analysis comparing cycle length and amplitude which we hope to publish soon which may provoke more new ideas too.

  9. [...] Another argument against planetary influence on solar activity bites the dust [...]

  10. [...] physicists such as Leif Svalgaard and Cornelis de Jager dismiss possible planetary effects by invoking the argument that the forces are too [...]