Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

From, a new paper which looks at how dry atmosphere’s of some exoplanets could cast doubt on long cherished notions about planet formation. Current mainstream thinking is that big planets form a long way out and migrate inwards. Perhaps the opposite may be the case, and ‘hot jupiters’ form near the parent star and increase the size of their orbits asthay gain angular moentum. Supporting this possibility, a recent paper by Poppenhaeger on the electromagnetic coupling of proto-planetary discs with the host star posit a slowing the stellar rotation and a shift of its angular momentum to the forming planets.

hd189733Scientists searching for worlds outside of the Solar System say that three such planets — distant gas giants that resemble Jupiter — are surprisingly dry.

The atmospheres of these exoplanets, known as ‘hot Jupiters’, contain between one-tenth and one-thousandth water vapour than predicted, measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope show. The findings, published 24 July in Astrophysical Journal Letters1, are at odds with theories of how planets form.

Madhusudhan thinks that it is possible, but not likely, that clouds are skewing his results. The particles would have to be high in the atmosphere, above the water vapour, for this to be true. That would place the clouds in the thinnest part of each exoplanet’s atmosphere, but they could be too heavy to stay aloft. The clouds would also need to survive in the wide range of temperatures the three planets’ atmospheres span — 900–2,200 ºC — which models can’t yet explain. “There is just no candidate cloud composition or physics that can do it,” he says.


Thanks to commenter ‘psc3113′ for finding the concluding part of HC Russells’ paper on a lunar 19 year cycle in drought records, taken from The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939)  Saturday 4 July 1896. At the conclusion of the article, the probably cause of the 19 year cycle identified is elucidated.

Periodicity of Good and Bad Seasons
(Continued from last Week.)

Hurricanes Come in Droughts.
I should like it to be clearly understood that I do not mean ordinary hurricanes, which are as much parts of ordinary weather conditions in some parts of the world as our southerly winds are here. What I mean are extraordinary hurricanes, those that come at long intervals to terrify mankind by their power for destruction. These are connected with droughts, and, therefore should be discussed here. I had long since observed that the connection between the two was obvious enough sometimes, and during the past year I was reminded of it very often by the frequent reports of heavy gales met with by ships coming to this port, indicating great atmospheric energy. Then on the 3rd January, 1803, came the hurricane over the Tongan group of islands, and not one of the vessels in the harbour rode out the storm; every one of them was wrecked in the harbour before morning, and the wind was of such exceptional violence that after it was over the islands looked as if they had been bombarded.

Then I turned to storms on this coast, some of which were of terrible violence. And as I write, the 28th ‘May, we have the report of a terrible cyclone in America, by which three of the States, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana were damaged and the city of St. Louis wrecked. and 1300 people killed by falling buildings, and damage to property caused to the extent, estimated, of twenty million dollars; another fragment of the present D drought.



A newly discovered planet pair orbiting a red dwarf a mere 13 light years from our solar system is in a near 2:5 orbital resonance. From National Geographic:

An international team of astronomers reports the discovery of two new planets orbiting Kapteyn’s star, a nearby red dwarf with a long history. One of its newly discovered worlds, dubbed Kapteyn b, circles the star at the right distance to allow seas to survive on its surface, where water is seen as a key ingredient of life as we know it.



Time flies on beta Pictoris b, a behemoth gas planet orbiting a young neighbor star about 63 light-years from Earth.

A day there lasts just eight hours, making beta Pic b a faster spinner than even Jupiter, which rotates in 10 hours. Pic b is the first planet beyond the solar system to have its rotational rate clocked, scientists said in an article published in this week’s Nature.

Technically, what is interesting is that it was so easy to do these observations,

lead researcher Ignas Snellen, with Leiden University, Netherlands, wrote in an email to Discovery News.


lollianus-mavortiusQuintus Flavius Maesius Egnatius Lollianus signo Mavortius (fl. 330 – 356) was a politician of the Roman Empire. Known as Roman consul Lolliano Mavorzio in the local dialect, an acephalous [headless] statue of Mavortius was discovered in Puteoli, then Pozzuoli (near Naples, Italy) in the C18th. He was Governor of Campania from 328 to 335, comes Orientis from 330 to 336, Proconsul of Africa from 334 to 337, Praefectus urbi of Rome in 342,Consul in 355 and Praetorian prefect of Italy for Constantius II between 355 and 356.

Being a well travelled man who had probably conversed with the scribes of   the Serapeum, had made many naked eye observations of the heavens, and taking a strong interest in the subject himself, he encouraged the senatorial writer Julius Firmicus Maternus to write an astrological essay, the Matheseos libri VIII. It is among the last extensive handbooks of a “scientific” astrology that circulated in the West before the appearance of Arabic texts in the 12th century. According to Firmicus Maternus, the system of horoscopic astrology was given early on to an Egyptian pharaoh named Nechepso and his priest Petosiris. The Hermetic texts were also put together during this period.


This is a major new paper published in the March issue of prestigious journal ‘Solar Physics’ by solar-planetary theorists Ken McCracken, Jurg Beer and Friedhelm Steinhilber, which makes a newer and more extensive analysis of planetary motion in relation to the Carbon 14 and Beryllium 10 Glactic cosmic ray proxies than the 2400 yr Hallstat cycle study we looked at yesterday. The paper has been in the works a long time (submitted in July 2012), achieving final acceptance in late February this year. I can’t make the whole paper available due to copyright restrictions, but the abstract gives a clue as to the content. I’ve added one of the figures up to help convey some of the more important results. I’ve also appended the bibliography, as this isn’t part of the paper’s main text, it’s great to see Geoff Sharp and Ian Wilson getting citations. We can discuss other parts of their paper in comments. Boy is Martin Rasmussen going to look stupid in the future, by axing PRP for publishing our solar-planetary special edition.




Our friend Semi has sent me a paper to  first publish here at the talkshop. There are some interesting puzzles and some speculative ideas in it which will intrigue our readers. Since as Hans Jelbring showed the other day, we tend to be sceptical of ‘grand theories’, we should also temper our scepticism  with an openness to alternative ideas lest it becomes a dour cynicism. The great thing about having an open mind is the ability to filter things out of it as well as allow things into it. So we can take the parts of someone else’s work we find interesting or useful, and leave the parts we aren’t interested in, without feeling the need to pass judgement on them.

Semi emailed this introduction along with the paper:

This winter I’ve sent you one my works, and said, there is another work pending, which I’m attaching now…
It is related to the Curvature Cosmology by David F. Crawford and original Einstein’s hyper-spherical universe, of which Albert E. was  incorrectly persuaded by his colleagues at that time, that it was incorrect. This idea of (hyper)spherical universe is as revolutionary, as once was the idea of a spherical Earth.


This’ll keep Oldbrew and me busy with the calculators  for a while. :)


The artist concept depicts multiple-transiting planet systems, which are stars with more than one planet. The planets eclipse or transit their host star from the vantage point of the observer. This angle is called edge-on.
Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.

Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.

The Kepler team continues to amaze and excite us with their planet hunting results. That these new planets and solar systems look somewhat like our own, portends a great future when we have the James Webb Space Telescope in space to characterize the new worlds.


From the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, news that won’t surprise talkshoppers too much. Interesting though. Large magnetic field links binary pair

Dave Finley, Public Information Officer
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Astronomers have found a giant magnetic loop stretched outward from one of the stars making up the famous double-star system Algol. The scientists used an international collection of radio telescopes to discover the feature, which may help explain details of previous observations of the stellar system.

Artist’s conception of Algol star system
with radio image superimposed on grid.
CREDIT: Peterson et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF

“This is the first time we’ve seen a feature like this in the magnetic field of any star other than the Sun,” said William Peterson, of the University of Iowa.

The pair, 93 light-years from Earth, includes a star about 3 times more massive than the Sun and a less-massive companion, orbiting it at a distance of 5.8 million miles, only about six percent of the distance between Earth and the Sun. The newly-discovered magnetic loop emerges from the poles of the less-massive star and stretches outward in the direction of the primary star. As the secondary star orbits its companion, one side — the side with the magnetic loop — constantly faces the more-massive star, just as the same side of our Moon always faces the Earth.


Steven Hawking has told Nature


The absence of event horizons means that there are no black holes – in the sense of regimes from which light can’t escape to infinity,

Stephen Hawking has shocked physicists by admitting ‘there are no black holes’. Professor Hawking instead argues in the paper, called Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting For Black Holes that the idea of an event horizon, from which light cannot escape, is flawed.


Guest post by Tim Cullen covering natural philosophy from pre-historic Scotland, Plato and Kepler to a sub-atomic theory developed by an eminently well qualified nuclear physicist.

Phi in the Sky - As Above So Below

The renaissance of Natural Philosophy in the Renaissance period laid the foundation stones which enabled the construction of the modern scientific edifice.

The Renaissance also renewed interest in anti-Aristotelian theories of nature considered as an organic, living whole comprehensible independently of theology, as in the work of Nicholas of Cusa, Nicholas Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Telesius, and Tommaso Campanella.




European spacecraft circling Venus has captured high-resolution images of strange waves in the clouds whirring above Earth’s nearest neighbor. These ripples could help scientists understand how Venus’ hellish surface shapes its atmosphere.On Venus, mountains and volcanoes rise above vast lava plains and temperatures are hot enough to melt lead. But this hostile landscape is largely obscured by the planet’s dense, toxic atmosphere with clouds blown by winds up to 186 to 248 mph (300 to 400 km/h).


Brilliant Czech researcher P.A. Semi has sent us the fruits of some considerable labour, which he has asked us to share with the Solar-planetary community. Since the venue at Pattern Recognition in Physics was axed by Copernicus (The Innovative Science un-PublisherTM), he says he is not sure where to get this published, so the Talkshop it is for now. I will also add it to the repository I am building at ‘Solar System Science’, a new venture I’m setting up in collaboration with other researchers. Tim Channon will be interested in working with the dataset which can be generated from the resources Semi has provided, and I’m sure others will be too. Here’s a sample of the output:


Semi Writes:

Hello Tallbloke and others.

I’ve produced the Synoptic map of Sunspots 1874-2012 and Interpolated Sunspot Area, that allows to investigate sunspot record without smoothing, while removing the 27-day false signal of single-face problem another way – by interpolating individual Sunspot groups: if they can be matched on the next rotation, they are linearly interpolated to the new position and size, if they are not matched, they are interpolated in 17 days linearly to zero. This way, the far-side Sunspots are interpolated and the record does not need the usual monthly smoothing, that wipes away precise timings. (There still exists some single-face problem – the Sunspots, appearing on the far side first, are delayed until they get to the front side, and the 17-day fade-out makes a typical fade-out curves in the chart, but still better than if the group disappeared abruptly on the limb…)

An Unbelievable Decision
Nils-Axel MÖRNER
Handling editor of the Special Issue of PRP

wpid-PRP-Censured.jpgThe idea that the planetary motions affect and control the solar variability is old, but in the stage of an unproven hypothesis. In recent years major advancements have occurred and in 2013, it seemed that time was ripe for a major, multi-authored, reinvestigation. Therefore, a Special Issue of Pattern Recognition in Physics was devoted to: “Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts”.

The volume includes 12 separate research papers and General Conclusions, co-authored by 19 prominent scientists. Indeed, they agreed that the driving factor of solar variability must emerge from the planetary beat on the Sun, and by that its emission of luminosity and Solar Wind both factors of which affect the Earth-Moon system.


A couple of interesting obs have popped up in suggestions, so here’s a thread to pitch them to. I’ll just post Sparks interesting plots from last year and let them have at it. I’m working wit Stuart ‘Oldbrew’ on other orbits today here at Tallbloke Towers.





The Alpha Centauri Connection

In 1922 Ellsworth Huntington recognised that the planets may well influence sunspots.

A study of sunspots suggests that their true periodicity is almost if not exactly identical with that of the orbital revolution of Jupiter, 11.8 years.

Other investigations show numerous remarkable coincidences between sunspots and the orbital revolution of the other planets, including especially Saturn and Mercury.

This seems to indicate that there is some truth in the hypothesis that sunspots and other related disturbances of the solar atmosphere owe their periodicity to the varying effects of the planets as they approach and recede from the sun in their eccentric orbits and as they combine or oppose their effects according to their relative positions.

Climatic Changes: Their Nature and Causes – 1922 – Ellsworth Huntington

[update:]  PDF version created by Tim  1.2MB [/update]


Comet Ison makes solar approach on Thursday, passing a mere 720,000 miles from the solar surface. It’ll get hot. This could cause a break-up, with fragments then heading on as yet unpredictable trajectories. Could this pose a threat to Earth? Stuart Clark at the Guardian has the following obs:

Comet-011If it survives an encounter with the sun this week, comet Ison will put on an impressive early morning display in the run-up to Christmas. But anyone hoping for a Bethlehem-style celestial sign on the big day will be disappointed. By then the comet will probably be too faint to see with a naked eye.

Ison is currently speeding towards a fiery encounter on Thursday, which could destroy it. It will pass 720,000 miles above the solar surface, 130 times closer than our planet ever reaches.

The intense sunlight will heat the comet to about 2,700C, speeding up its evaporation. In the past some comets have been seen to vaporise under such an onslaught.


Congratulations to Nicola Scafetta  and Richard Willson on the publication of their new paper, made freely available by high impact journal Pattern Recognition in Physics :

Multiscale comparative spectral analysis of satellite total solar irradiance measurements from 2003 to 2013 reveals a planetary modulation of solar activity and its nonlinear dependence on the 11 yr solar cycle.



Dr Nicola Scafetta has asked for assistance from the talkshop to disseminate a talk he has given at the John Locke Foundation recently. We are very happy to oblige. Video below the break. The John Locke Foundation introduces the video with this text:

scafetta-lockeNicola Scafetta is a research scientist at the Active Cavity Radiometer Solar Irradiance Monitor Lab group and an adjunct assistant professor in the physics department at Duke University. His research interests are in theoretical and applied statistics and nonlinear models of complex processes. He has published peer-reviewed papers in journals covering a wide variety of disciplines, including astronomy, biology, climatology, economics, medicine, physics and sociology. In this speech, he discusses “The Sun, the Moon, and the Planets: The Astronomical Origins of Climate Change on Earth.”

This is great stuff, with Nicola launching straight into the heart of the matter from minute number 1.  He says right at the beginning that the oscillations in the solar system caused by planetary motion are mirrored by climate changes on Earth. Someting we have discussed a lot here over the last four years.


Here’s a new paper which looks at the group and Wolff sunspot numbers in the mid C19th. The authors find the Wolff sunspot numbers (WSN) prior to 1848 are too high, and need reducing 20%. This brings the Wolff sunspot number more into line with Group Sunspot Number (GSN). The full paper is available (for a short time) directly from A&A here (free signup required).

Inconsistency of the Wolf sunspot number series around 1848

Raisa Leussu1,2, Ilya G. Usoskin1,2, Rainer Arlt3 and Kalevi Mursula1

1 Department of Physics, PO Box 3000, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2 Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (Oulu unit), University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
3 Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany

Received: 26 July 2013
Accepted: 23 September 2013


Aims. Sunspot numbers form a benchmark series in many studies, but may still contain inhomogeneities and inconsistencies. In particular, an essential discrepancy exists between the two main sunspot number series, Wolf and group sunspot numbers (WSN and GSN, respectively), before 1848. The source of this discrepancy has remained unresolved so far. However, the recently digitized series of solar observations in 1825–1867 by Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, who was the primary observer of the WSN before 1848, makes such an assessment possible.