Archive for the ‘Astrophysics’ Category

An important new solar paper by Prof Valentina Zharkova and co-authors S. J. Shepherd, S. I. Zharkov & E. Popova  published in ‘Nature’ has incorporated the solar-planetary theory we’ve been researching and advancing here at the talkshop over the last decade. As well as further developing her double dynamo theory which now accounts for the last several millennium’s solar grand minima and maxima, she includes discussion of Fairbridge, Mackey, Shirley, Charvatova and Abreu et al’s work. Central to the new hypothesis is the motion of the Sun around the barycentre of the solar system, described as the Solar Inertial Motion [SIM].

Left plot: the example of SIM trajectories of the Sun about the barycenter calculated from 1950 until 210034. Right plot: the cone of expanding SIM orbits of the Sun35 with the top showing 2D orbit projections similar to the left plot. Here there are three complete SIM orbits of the Sun, each of which takes about 179 years. Each solar orbit consists of about eight, 22-year solar cycles35. The total time span is, therefore, three 179-year solar cycles31, or about 600 years. Source: Adapted from Mackey35. Reproduced with permission from the Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc

Following my discussion with her at dinner following her talk in London last year, Zharkova now agrees with us that the SIM induced by planetary motion affects sunspot production and solar activity levels.


Kepler-47 system [Image Credit: NASA/JPL Caltech/T. Pyle]

Astronomers have discovered a third planet in the Kepler-47 system, securing the system’s title as the most interesting of the binary-star worlds, says NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration team.

Using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, a team of researchers, led by astronomers at San Diego State University, detected the new Neptune-to-Saturn-size planet orbiting between two previously known planets.

With its three planets orbiting two suns, Kepler-47 is the only known multi-planet circumbinary system. Circumbinary planets are those that orbit two stars.

Continued here.
– – –
Now at the Talkshop let’s take a quick look at the data.


Why Phi? – the Kepler-47 circumbinary system

Posted: April 16, 2019 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, News, Phi
Tags: ,

Kepler Space Telescope [credit: NASA]

A headline at today reads:
‘Astronomers discover third planet in the Kepler-47 circumbinary system’

The report starts:
‘Astronomers have discovered a third planet in the Kepler-47 system, securing the system’s title as the most interesting of the binary-star worlds. Using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, a team of researchers, led by astronomers at San Diego State University, detected the new Neptune-to-Saturn-size planet orbiting between two previously known planets.

With its three planets orbiting two suns, Kepler-47 is the only known multi-planet circumbinary system. Circumbinary planets are those that orbit two stars.’

In this system the two stars orbit each other about every 7.45 days.

What can the latest information tell us about these planets, including newly discovered planet ‘d’?


Coronal rain [image credit: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory]

We’re told “The physics is literally the same” for the Earth’s rain and the Sun’s plasma showers, except that on the Sun the scale is much bigger than the entire Earth.

It’s one of the most enduring mysteries of the Sun: why the superheated surface of this great ball of glowing plasma is actually cooler than its outer atmosphere, called the corona.

Scientists now have a new explanation for this hotly debated topic says ScienceAlert, and the answer was hidden in a strange solar phenomenon that’s never been observed quite like this before: a deluge of plasma rain falling within newly discovered magnetic structures called Raining Null Point Topologies.


Pairs or multiple systems of stars which orbit their common center of mass. If we can measure and understand their orbital motion, we can estimate the stellar masses.

How does this work? The two massive stars in question are orbiting each other at a distance of 180 AU (astronomical units), six times greater than that of Neptune to the Sun. Each orbit may take nearly 600 years.

Scientists from the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research in Japan, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and the University of Virginia in the USA and collaborators have made observations of a molecular cloud that is collapsing to form two massive protostars that will eventually become a binary star system, reports

While it is known that most massive stars possess orbiting stellar companions it has been unclear how this comes about—for example, are the stars born together from a common spiraling gas disk at the center of a collapsing cloud, or do they pair up later by chance encounters in a crowded star cluster.


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

OK, that’s not the original title of the article below – but it sounded a bit more interesting from a layman’s perspective 🙂

The rotation of stars in galaxies such as the Milky Way is puzzling, says

The orbital speeds of stars should decrease with their distance from the center of the galaxy, but in fact, stars in the middle and outer regions of galaxies have the same rotational speed.

This may be due to the gravitational effect of matter that we can’t see. But although researchers have been seeking it for decades, the existence of dark matter has yet to be definitively proven and we still don’t know what it might be made of.

With this in mind, the physicists Dmitri Ryutov, Dmitry Budker and Victor Flambaum have suggested that the rotational dynamics of galaxies might be explained by other factors. They hypothesize that the mass of photons, which are particles of light, might be responsible.


During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona and prominences are visible to the naked eye [image credit: Luc Viatour / ]

The Sun continues to pose questions for scientists, such as the way solar cycle variability works and the surprisingly intense heat of its corona, compared to its surface.

A team of scientists who collected numerous observations of last summer’s total solar eclipse via telescopes and electronic cameras has used the data to better understand motions within the solar corona, the Sun’s outer atmosphere, says Space Reporter.

Jay Pasachoff of Williams College in Williamstown, MA, who led the team in observing the eclipse in Salem, Oregon, presented their findings to the 232nd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in early June.

His team has observed numerous solar eclipses during various times in the 11-year sunspot cycle.


Saturn from the Cassini orbiter [image credit: NASA]

This has been a tricky problem for years as explained below, and now appears to have been resolved. But whether that’s the end of the story remains to be seen.

Saturn’s distinctive rings were observed in unprecedented detail by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, and scientists have now used those observations to probe the interior of the giant planet and obtain the first precise determination of its rotation rate, reports

The length of a day on Saturn, according to their calculations, is 10 hours 33 minutes and 38 seconds.


An artist’s image of a hot-Jupiter exoplanet [credit: NASA]

But they seem to have something in common that scientists were not expecting: their nightside temperature.

New research shows how the nightside of all hot Jupiters is covered in clouds, reports Discover Magazine.

Cloudy Hot Jupiters

“Hot Jupiters” exoplanets that resemble our own Jupiter, except for being, well, hot, have another side to them.

We mean this literally: The planets usually don’t rotate [see Tidal Locking note below], so one side is always facing their star, and the other remains in permanent night.

A new study is suggesting that these night sides probably all look the same, no matter where you go in the universe.


Why Phi: is the Moon a phi balloon? – part 2

Posted: November 9, 2018 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, moon, Phi
Tags: ,


Picking up from where we left off here

Three well-known aspects of lunar motion are:
Lunar declination – minimum and maximum degrees
Orbital parameters – perigee and apogee distances (from Earth)
Anomalistic month – minimum and maximum days

Standstill limits due to the lunar nodal cycle

‘The major standstill limit of the moon can be reached if the lunar node is near the vernal (or autumnal) point, and with the moon at its max. distance from the equator, equal to a declination at present days of 23.44° + 5.1454°= 28.59°.

The minor standstill limit of the moon can be reached if the lunar node is near the vernal (or autumnal) point, and with the moon at its min. distance from the equator, equal to a declination at present days of 23.44°- 5.1454° = 18.29°.’

28.59 / 18.29 = 1.5631492
4th root of 1.5631492 = 1.11815
This number leads to the key to the puzzle.


[For details on the graph see below]

Update 12/11/2018: Ian Wilson’s 2019 El Nino forecast can be found here.

Cognitive Dissonance: When a person or a group of people have attitudes, beliefs or behaviors that are in conflict with each other. Generally, this produces a feeling of mental discomfort that leads to an alteration in their attitudes, beliefs or behaviors that moderates their mental discomfort and restores balance.

I believe that the level of cognitive dissonance that we have about the influence of lunar tides upon El Nino events has become so large that something has to give.

In a series of blog posts in November 2014:

I showed that between 1870 and 2025, the precise alignments between the lunar synodic [phase] cycle and the 31/62 year Perigean New/Full moon cycle, naturally breaks up into six 31-year epochs each of which has a distinctly different tidal property. Note that the second of these 31-year intervals starts with the precise alignment on the 15th of April 1870, with the subsequent epoch boundaries occurring every 31 years after that:

Epoch 1 – Prior to 15th April  1870
Epoch 2 – 15th April 1870 to 18th April 1901
Epoch 3 – 8th April 1901 to 20th April 1932
Epoch 4 – 20th April 1932 to 23rd April 1963
Epoch 5 – 23rd April 1963 to 25th April 1994
Epoch 6 – 25th April 1994 to 27th April 2025

I claimed that if the 31/62-year seasonal tidal cycle plays a role in sequencing the triggering of El Niño events, it would be reasonable to expect that its effects for the following three epochs:


Last Wednesday I attended the talk by Professor Valentina Zharkova hosted by the GWPF in London. She delivered a superb lecture including news of new work improving her model by including quadrupole magnetic parameters. In the Q & A session that followed, I got the opportunity to point up the connection between her model output and Rick Salvadors.

zharkova salvador models

I got a very positive response, including an invitation to collaborate on further work. We discussed this further over dinner, when I gave her a printed copy of Rick’s 2013 PRP paper.


Saturn from the Cassini orbiter [image credit: NASA]

Weird compared to some theories, perhaps – but observations can trump theories, of course. Is it too weird to ask if the planet’s rings, extending outwards from the equator, and its axis-aligned magnetic field could be related phenomena?

Some of the last data from the Cassini mission reveals more structure in Saturn’s magnetic field, but still no answer as to how it formed, says

NASA’s Cassini mission—with Imperial kit on board—took a series of daring dives between the planet and its inmost ring in September 2017 before burning up in the planet’s atmosphere.


Artist’s impression of an exoplanetary system [credit: NASA]

…and don’t get the answers their models led them to expect. Could the close proximity to their star of most exoplanets so far observed be a factor?

Sun-like stars rotate up to two and a half times faster at the equator than at higher latitudes, a finding by researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi that challenges current science on how stars rotate, reports

Until now, little was known about the precise rotational patterns of Sun-like stars, only that the equator spins faster than at higher latitudes, similar to the Sun.


I was at the Dodger game Saturday when the power went out….completely.  It was the 12th inning, with the score tied at 4-4 (Dodger Vs Padres).  This was a serious matter!

I thought I was joking when I told my friends “It’s probably caused by massive ground currents from a CME (coronal mass ejection)”.  Lo and behold, when I woke up Sunday morning, I discovered that a surprisingly significant stream of energy from an earthbound solar filament hit the ionosphere at the same time as the outage.

The following chart shows measurements of the Earth’s geomagnetic field in the time period when the power outage occurred:


UTC is 7 hours ahead of PST, so the power outage at Dodger Stadium, which occurred in Los Angeles at 9:44 p.m., shows up on the chart on August 26th at 04:44 a.m.  That appears to be exactly when the KP Index from NOAA hit Kp = 7.0, categorized as a “Severe Storm”.


Three of Saturn’s moons — Tethys, Enceladus and Mimas — as seen from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft [image credit: NASA/JPL]

This is a comparison of the orbital patterns of Saturn’s four inner moons with the four exoplanets of the Kepler-223 system. Similarities pose interesting questions for planetary theorists.

The first four of Saturn’s seven major moons – known as the inner large moons – are Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys and Dione (Mi,En,Te and Di).

The star Kepler-223 has four known planets:
b, c, d, and e.

When comparing their orbital periods, there are obvious resonances (% accuracy shown):
Saturn: 2 Mi = 1 Te (> 99.84%) and 2 En = 1 Di (> 99.87%)
K-223: 2 c = 1 e (>99.87%) and 2 b = 1 d (> 99.86%)


Nir Shaviv is co-author along with Henrik Svensmark and others of a major new paper in Nature Communications titled Increased ionization supports growth of aerosols into cloud condensation nuclei. He has a write up at his Sciencebits blog. Here’s the introduction:

Our new results published today in nature communications provide the last piece of a long studied puzzle. We finally found the actual physical mechanism linking between atmospheric ionization and the formation of cloud condensation nuclei. Thus, we now understand the complete physical picture linking solar activity and our galactic environment (which govern the flux of cosmic rays ionizing the atmosphere) to climate here on Earth though changes in the cloud characteristics. In short, as small aerosols grow to become cloud condensation nuclei, they grow faster under higher background ionization rates. Consequently, they have a higher chance of surviving the growth without being eaten by larger aerosols. This effect was calculated theoretically and measured in a specially designed experiment conducted at the Danish Space Research Institute at the Danish Technical University, together with our colleagues Martin Andreas Bødker Enghoff and Jacob Svensmark.


Figure 4: The correlation between the linearly detrended sea level measured using satellite altimetry (blue dots) and a model fit which includes just two components: The sun and el Niño southern oscillation. The excellent fit implies that the two components are by far the dominant source of sea level change on short time scales


It has long been known that solar variations appear to have a large effect on climate. This was already suggested by William Herschel over 200 years ago. Over the past several decades, more empirical evidence have unequivocally demonstrated the existence of such a link, as exemplified in the examples in the box below.



Top row: artist concepts of the seven planets of TRAPPIST-1 with their orbital periods, distances from their star, radii, masses, densities and surface gravity as compared to those of Earth.
[Image credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH]

Talkshop analysis of some of the data follows this brief report from Astrobiology at NASA.

A team of researchers has provided new information about putative planets in the outer regions of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Currently, seven transiting planets have been identified in orbit around the ultra cool red dwarf star. The scientists determined the lower bounds on the orbital distance and inclination (within a range of masses) of planets that could be beyond the seven inner planets.


Very Large Array, New Mexico [image credit: NASA]

This was ‘the first radio detection and the first measurement of the magnetic field of a possible planetary mass object beyond our Solar System.’ It’s even bigger than Jupiter. Plenty of puzzles for scientists to investigate.

Astronomers have used the VLA to detect a possible planetary-mass object with a surprisingly powerful magnetic field some 20 light-years from Earth.

It can help scientists better understand magnetic processes on stars and planets, says the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array
(VLA) have made the first radio-telescope detection of a planetary-mass object beyond our Solar System. The object, about a dozen times more massive than Jupiter, is a surprisingly strong magnetic powerhouse and a “rogue,” traveling through space unaccompanied by any parent star.


There’s a new paper coming out in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Wu, Usoskin et al that is of interest to us. It reconstructs solar activity over 9 millennia. When I get a copy of the data, I’ll compare it to Steinhilber et al’s 2012 effort.