Archive for the ‘Astrophysics’ Category

From looking at the 30 day Wolf number and NOAA sunspot number it looks like Solar Minimum could have been in December, 2019 but possibly as late as mid-March this year. 

 Coincidentally, there are peaks in barycentric solar torque (dL/dt, where L denotes the Sun’s angular momentum, ref https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.03553v3) on March 19 and April 24, 2020: 

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Browsing twitter recently I ran across this short video of a solar flare shot a few days ago.

After asking for some clarification on frame rate I was really intrigued.

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With orbit periods ranging from only 2-12 days, this must be one of the most compact multi-planet systems found so far.

Almost visible to the naked eye in the Draco constellation, the star HD 158259 has been observed for the last seven years by astronomers using the SOPHIE spectrograph, reports Phys.org.

This instrument, installed at the Haute-Provence Observatory in the South of France, acquired 300 measurements of the star.

The analysis of the data which was done by an international team led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), has resulted in the discovery that HD 158259 has six planetary companions: a “super-Earth” and five “mini-Neptunes.”

These planets display an exceptionally regular spacing, which hints at how the system may have formed.

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Black hole conundrum

Posted: April 13, 2020 by oldbrew in Astrophysics


‘After an international coalition of scientists released the first-ever image of a black hole last year, we now have the ultimate follow-up: a video of a supermassive black hole spewing a brilliant jet of particles.’ – Futurism.

Talkshop comment:
How does visible material escaping from somewhere that nothing is supposed to escape from, work?

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From Wikipedia:
‘A black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting gravitational attraction so strong that nothing—no particles or even electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole. The boundary of the region from which no escape is possible is called the event horizon.’

Seems clear, except that ‘nothing–no particles'(Wiki) and ‘brilliant jet of particles'(report) don’t go together too well?

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ISSN 1063-7737, Astronomy Letters, 2019, Vol. 45, No. 11, pp. 778–790.c Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2019. Nicola Scafetta1*,FrancoMilani2, and Antonio Bianchini3, 41Department of Earth Sciences, Environment and Georesources, University of Naples Federico II,Complesso Universitario di Monte S. Angelo, via Cinthia, 21, 80126 Naples, Italy 2 Astronomical Association Euganea, via N. Tommaseo, 70, 35137 Padova, Italy3INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell’Osservatorio 5, I-35122 Padova, Italy 4 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Universit `a degli Studi di Padova, via Marzolo 8, 35131 Padova, Italy Received May 18, 2019; revised October 2, 2019; accepted October 23, 2019

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There’s been a data update for the three planet system of star YZ Ceti, which featured in our 2018 post: Why Phi? – resonant exoplanets of star YZ Ceti. According to NASA the third planet YZ Ceti d is a ‘super Earth’, about 1.14 times the mass of our planet.

The paper:
‘The CARMENES search for exoplanets around M dwarfs.
Characterization of the nearby ultra-compact multiplanetary system YZ Ceti’
(Submitted on 5 Feb 2020)

With an additional 229 radial velocity measurements obtained since the discovery publication, we reanalyze the YZ Ceti system and resolve the alias issues.

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The Fainting of Betelgeuse — Update

Posted: January 12, 2020 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Measurement, News

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This enormous star seems to be fading fast.

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 10, 2020: One day, perhaps in our lifetimes, perhaps a million years from now, the red giant Betelgeuse will dim a little–and then explode. The resulting supernova will rival the full Moon and cast shadows after dark, completely transforming the night skies of Earth. No wonder astronomers are closely tracking the current “fainting of Betelgeuse.”

“Fainting” is an actual astronomical term. It means dimming, the opposite of brightening. And right now, Betelgeuse is definitely fainting.

Brian-Ottum-Betelgeuse_Fainting_4x4_dated_1577930828  Betelgeuse photographed by Brian Ottum of Animas, New Mexico, almost 4 years apart using the same telescope and observing methods. 

Edward Guinan of Villanova University and colleagues caused a minor sensation last month when they reported “[Betelgeuse] has been declining in brightness since October 2019, now reaching a modern all-time low of V = +1.12 mag on 07 December 2019 UT. Currently this is the faintest the star has been during our…

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Kepler-90 Planets Orbit Close to Their Star [credit: NASA/AMES]


In part 1 we looked at the inner four planets: b,c,i and d. Here in part 2 we’ll look at the outer four: e,f,g and h – with a dash of d included.

The largest planet in the system is h, the outermost of the eight so far found, and it’s about the same size as Jupiter. It’s ‘an exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of the early G-type main sequence star Kepler-90’, says Wikipedia. However, ‘it is a gas giant with no solid surface’, so probably no aliens lurking there.

It wasn’t that easy to find synodic patterns of interest, but here we have two examples, both involving planet h.

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Golden rectangle: Fibonacci spiral


Unusually, the eight planets in the Kepler-90 system were found using machine learning. “It’s very possible that Kepler-90 has even more planets that we don’t know about yet,” NASA astronomer Andrew Vanderburg said.
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From Wikipedia’s Near resonances section on exoplanet Kepler-90:

“Kepler-90’s eight known planets all have periods that are close to being in integer ratio relationships with other planets’ periods; that is, they are close to being in orbital resonance.

The period ratios b:c, c:i and i:d are close to 4:5, 3:5 and 1:4, respectively (4: 4.977, 3: 4.97 and 1: 4.13) and d, e, f, g and h are close to a 2:3:4:7:11 period ratio (2: 3.078: 4.182: 7.051: 11.102; also 7: 11.021).

f, g and h are also close to a 3:5:8 period ratio (3: 5.058: 7.964). Relevant to systems like this and that of Kepler-36, calculations suggest that the presence of an outer gas giant planet facilitates the formation of closely packed resonances among inner super-Earths.”
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Let’s look at it another way i.e. at the synodic periods rather than the orbit ratios, as these tend to deliver more clear-cut results, starting with a model for the first four planets: b,c,i and d, which we’ll call the inner planets. Their orbits of the star are in a range of 7-60 days.

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Solar system planets [image credit: BBC]

Well this looks interesting. Jean paul Zoghbi has discovered half integer relationships between star rotation rates and their planetary system’s angular momenta. The paper is here

Abstract With the discovery of now more than 500 exoplanets, we present a statistical analysis of the planetary orbital periods and their relationship to the rotation periods of their parent stars. We test whether the structural variables of planetary orbits, i.e. planetary angular momentum and orbital period, are `quantized’ in integer or half-integer multiples of the parent star’s rotation period. The Solar System is first shown to exhibit quantized planetary orbits that correlate with the Sun’s rotation period.

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A researcher said of one of the new finds: “It is hard to see how the planet got there!”
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Six ‘very hot’ rocky exoplanets orbiting stars in the local region of the Milky Way hold the key to understanding more about how the Earth was formed, astronomers claim.

Researchers from the Open University have been studying planets discovered by the European Space Observatory’s planet-hunting telescope in Chile.

They are orbiting stars between 160 and 440 light years from Earth and all have hot surfaces with temperatures of around 2,012F to 3,272F.

The new findings could shed light on the geology of Earth and other rocky planets in the Solar System including Mercury, Venus and Mars, researchers say.

Full Daily Mail report here.

The article also explains why ‘understanding forced reconnection can help modelers better predict when disruptive high-energy charged particles might come speeding at Earth.’

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has observed a magnetic explosion the likes of which have never been seen before, reports Phys.org.

In the scorching upper reaches of the Sun’s atmosphere, a prominence—a large loop of material launched by an eruption on the solar surface—started falling back to the surface of the Sun.

But before it could make it, the prominence ran into a snarl of magnetic field lines, sparking a magnetic explosion.

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How to Shape a Spiral Galaxy

Posted: December 10, 2019 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Electro-magnetism, Gravity, research

Spiral galaxy NGC 5457 aka the Pinwheel Galaxy [image credit: European Space Agency & NASA]


No mention of electricity here, although it’s required to create the magnetism: ‘The magnetic behavior of a material depends on its structure, particularly its electron configuration’ – Wikipedia. We’re told these electromagnetic forces stretch for 24,000 light years in one galaxy, but understanding them is still in its infancy.

New observations from SOFIA are shedding light on how spiral-shaped galaxies, like our own Milky Way, get their iconic shape, says NASA.

Our Milky Way galaxy has an elegant spiral shape with long arms filled with stars, but exactly how it took this form has long puzzled scientists. New observations of another galaxy are shedding light on how spiral-shaped galaxies like our own get their iconic shape.

Magnetic fields play a strong role in shaping these galaxies, according to research from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA.

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Poster from the NASA Exoplanets Exploration Program’s Exoplanet Travel Bureau [credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech]


Before we start – ‘Pulsar planets are planets that are found orbiting pulsars, or rapidly rotating neutron stars.’

Wikipedia tells us:
‘PSR B1257+12, previously designated PSR 1257+12, […] is a pulsar located 2,300 light-years from the Sun in the constellation of Virgo. It is also named Lich, after a powerful, fictional undead creature of the same name.

The pulsar has a planetary system with three known planets, named “Draugr” (PSR B1257+12 b or PSR B1257+12 A), “Poltergeist” (PSR B1257+12 c, or PSR B1257+12 B) and “Phobetor” (PSR B1257+12 d, or PSR B1257+12 C), respectively.

They were both the first extrasolar planets and the first pulsar planets to be discovered; B and C in 1992 and A in 1994.

A is the lowest-mass planet yet discovered by any observational technique, with somewhat less than twice the mass of Earth’s moon.’

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Neptune Moon Dance: This animation illustrates how the odd orbits of Neptune’s inner moons Naiad and Thalassa enable them to avoid each other as they race around the planet. (courtesy: JPL)

Well, this is fun. Need we say more?

Even by the wild standards of the outer solar system, the strange orbits that carry Neptune’s two innermost moons are unprecedented, according to newly published research.

Orbital dynamics experts are calling it a “dance of avoidance” performed by the tiny moons Naiad and Thalassa, says Space Newsfeed.

The two are true partners, orbiting only about 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) apart.

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Artist’s impression of the Kepler telescope [credit: Wikipedia]


So said researchers in their 2015 study which had that title. Then a third planet was seen.

In the abstract they say:

Methods. Our search through two separate pipelines led to the independent discovery of K2-19b and c, a two-planet system of Neptune-sized objects (4.2 and 7.2 R⊕), orbiting a K dwarf extremely close to the 3:2 mean motion resonance. The two planets each show transits, sometimes simultaneously owing to their proximity to resonance and the alignment of conjunctions.

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The rotation of Venus

Posted: October 25, 2019 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, research, Uncertainty
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Credit: infobarrel.com


Not mentioned in the report (or anywhere else we know of) is that 19 Venus rotations very closely match the period of 13 lunar tropical years of 13 orbits/rotations each: (169 * 27.321582 days) / 19 = 243.01827 days. This matches the 1991 Magellan observation of the Venusian rotation period 243.0185 days and is very close to the current estimate, which is that it averages 243.0212 +- .00006 days but seems to have a small degree of variability, for reasons yet to be confirmed.

Venus is covered in a thick layer of clouds, one reason that it appears so bright in the sky, says Phys.org.

Ancient astronomers had a good idea of what (since Copernicus) we know as its orbital period; the modern measurement is that Venus takes 224.65 days to complete one revolution around the Sun, a Venusian year.

Because of the clouds, however, it has been difficult to measure the length of the Venusian day since the nominal method of watching a visible surface feature rotate around 360 degrees is not possible.

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There doesn’t seem to be any online discussion of this planetary system, first seen in 2014 – but it turns out be interesting anyway.

This is a Lucas series set-up, the planets being b, c, and d in order of proximity to the star.

Starting with the orbits:
19 b = 203.006394 days
10 c = 203.03005
7 d = 203.1565
(data: exoplanet.eu)

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Mr Yoshimura would agree…

Posted: October 22, 2019 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Cycles
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…with the period of ~2500 years in our 2015 blog post: Why Phi? – Jupiter, Saturn and the de Vries cycle (we use 2503y).

Or he might do, if he had read it. More correctly, we agree with him.

In the second paragraph of the introduction in his article of December 1978 in the Astrophysical Journal, which has a rather long title related to the solar cycle, he writes:

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