Archive for the ‘Astrophysics’ Category

Exoplanet analysis is a growing field of scientific study as data pours in from the likes of NASA’s successful Kepler probe.

The abstract of a new paper explains its focus on this data:
‘Mean motion resonances and near-resonances up to the outer/inner orbital period ratio’s value of 5 and the denominator 4 are tested for all adjacent exoplanet orbits.’

Without delving into the nuts and bolts of the analysis here, let’s look at the list of results (click on image to view details):

By Marian C. Ghilea (2015)

By Marian C. Ghilea (2015)

The column ‘resonance type’ shows the planet:planet ratios we’re interested in.
Clearly there are many examples, although ‘near resonances’ are also included.

From the author’s concluding remarks:
‘Performing a simple analysis, the resonance or near-resonance states present in all the multiplanetary systems known to date can be found numerically using a computer analysis tool.’

‘The first results, presented in this paper, suggest different resonance or near-resonance distributions for different planet categories. The resonance/near resonance numbers of 2/1 and 3/2 appear to be dominant for the planets with larger masses while the 5/3 resonance seems to be the most common for terrestrial planets and mini neptunes. For giant planets, the 2/1 resonances are dominating at larger distances from the host star while the 3/2 resonance is more common at close distances from it. Resonances for values higher than 5/2 are encountered
only for planets with masses larger than 10 (ME*)’ [*Earth masses].

We can see from this that these ‘near resonances’ crop up regularly in exoplanet systems just as they do in our solar system e.g. Jupiter-Saturn 5:2, Neptune-Pluto 3:2.

Whatever the mechanism(s) involved, the frequency of their appearance can’t be regarded as accidental.

***
See also the Wikipedia page on orbital resonance

H/T Oldbrew.

Golden rings of star formation

NGC 3081 is seen here nearly face-on. Compared to other spiral galaxies, it looks a little different. The galaxy’s barred spiral centre is surrounded by a bright loop known as a resonance ring. This ring is full of bright clusters and bursts of new star formation.

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Kepler Space Telescope [NASA]

Kepler Space Telescope [NASA]


A very interesting report of a new science paper has appeared in the New Scientist:

‘William Ditto and his colleagues at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, compared the two strongest oscillations, or tones, made by the variable star KIC 5520878, using observations by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. They noticed that dividing the frequency of the secondary note by that of the primary, or lowest, note gives a value near the “golden ratio” – a number that shows up often in art and nature and is close to 1.618′

So is it real or did they perhaps just imagine it?
Let’s start with the abstract :

‘The unprecedented light curves of the Kepler space telescope document how the brightness of some stars pulsates at primary and secondary frequencies whose ratios are near the golden mean, the most irrational number.’

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From Space.com. It’s worth reading between the lines of this one to see the perplexed furrows on the brows of the ‘surprised’  scientists.

dynamoThe magnetic fields of planetary building blocks lasted for a surprisingly long time in the solar system’s early days, a new study suggests.

The magnetic fields of these big asteroids were apparently generated by the same process that drives Earth’s global magnetic activity, and could have persisted for hundreds of millions of years after the objects’ formation, researchers said.
The study team analyzed pallasites, iron-and-nickel meteorites believed to originate from an ancient rocky body about 250 miles (400 kilometers) wide. The pallasites contain tiny particles of ‪tetrataenite — a mineral that records a magnetic history of the parent body going back billions of years.

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Solar system cartoon [NASA]

Solar system cartoon [NASA]

This is not a new idea but it seems to be gaining a bit more traction. Planetary bodies like Pluto-sized Sedna don’t seem to fit the accepted ‘rules’ of solar system dynamics.

Phys.org reports: There could be at least two unknown planets hidden well beyond Pluto, whose gravitational influence determines the orbits and strange distribution of objects observed beyond Neptune. This has been revealed by numerical calculations made by researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid and the University of Cambridge. If confirmed, this hypothesis would revolutionise solar system models.

Astronomers have spent decades debating whether some dark trans-Plutonian planet remains to be discovered within the solar system. According to the calculations of scientists at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM, Spain) and the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) not only one, but at least two planets must exist to explain the orbital behaviour of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNO).
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Solar contiguous activity cycle 23/24

Posted: December 20, 2014 by tchannon in Astrophysics, Solar physics

At first sight this Brazilan paper in Astronomy & Astrophysics is relatively uninteresting if you are familar with sunspot activity, appears to be another general look using waveletts.

Two features strike me as worthy of highlighting

  • a double burst of activity during cycle 23, not obvious from sunspot data alone
  • continuing activity right through the 23/24 transition

Image

Extract from paper Fig. 5, my highlight of strong X activity post the cycle 23 sunspot peak.

Wavelet analysis of CME, X-ray flare, and sunspot series

M. R. G. Guedes, E. S. Pereira and J. R. Cecatto

A&A 573 A64 (2015)

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201323080

(access with registration, large PDF 17.7MB)

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Guest post from Peter Morecambe aka ‘Galloping Camel’

CLIMATE SCIENCE

The Kyoto Protocol

Elites around the world tend to believe that rising levels of CO2 in our atmosphere will cause catastrophic climate changes. Collectively they wield enough power to shape energy policies in many nations according to commitments laid down in the “Kyoto Protocol” and subsequent accords. It is interesting to compare the fate of the Kyoto Protocol based on the work of “Climate Scientists” such as Michael Mann with that of the Montreal Protocol based on the work of people like McElroy.

The Montreal Protocol essentially banned the production of Freon and similar compounds based on the prediction that this would reduce the size of the polar “Ozone Holes”. After the ban went into effect the size of the ozone holes diminished. This may mean that the science presented by McElroy and his cohorts was “Robust” or it may be dumb luck. Either way, McElroy has credibility and “Skeptics” are ridiculed. The Kyoto Protocol did not fare so well.

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venus-transit-2012Congratulations to Astrophysicist Ian Wilson who has had a new paper published at Pattern Recognition in Physics:
Discussion of this paper is going to be in the form of a workshop with specific objectives, and comments will be strictly moderated for relevance. The objectives will be announced by the main participants, Ian Wilson and Paul Vaughan, in their opening comments. Basically, unless you have something to contribute to the mathematical exposition, please sit this one out and watch.

This new peer-reviewed paper is available for (free) download at: http://www.pattern-recognition-in-physics.com/pub/prp-2-75-2014.pdf . This post reproduces the one at Ian’s blog.

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By Kelly Dickerson for Yahoo News:

ESA-Magnetospheres_600_MThe sun may be partly responsible for lightning strikes on Earth, and scientists think fluctuations in the sun’s magnetic field could be used to predict lightning storms weeks in advance.

The sun’s magnetic field can bend Earth’s own magnetic field, and this twisting and turning may be allowing an influx of high-energy particles into the planet’s atmosphere. These particles can cause a buildup of electric charge that can trigger lightning strikes.

From 2001 to 2006, during a period when the sun’s magnetic field was severely skewing the Earth’s magnetic field, the United Kingdom saw 50 percent more lightning strikes than normal, according to the new study. This severe skewing happens regularly as the sun’s magnetic field shifts. Scientists say this suggests the sun’s magnetic field could be used to predict the occurrence of lightning.

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saturn2From New Scientist:

Earth’s comfortable temperatures may be thanks to Saturn’s good behaviour. If the ringed giant’s orbit had been slightly different, Earth’s orbit could have been wildly elongated, like that of a long-period comet.

Our solar system is a tidy sort of place: planetary orbits here tend to be circular and lie in the same plane, unlike the highly eccentric orbits of many exoplanets. Elke Pilat-Lohinger of the University of Vienna, Austria, was interested in the idea that the combined influence of Jupiter and Saturn – the solar system’s heavyweights – could have shaped other planets’ orbits. She used computer models to study how changing the orbits of these two giant planets might affect the Earth.

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Writing from Australia Ian Wilson will be familiar to Talkshop regulars expounding his interest in astronomical connections with earth. He has three related recent articles and now a summary binding them together. Tim adds, the subject has a long history including false accusations of astrology by detractors; in this linked 1999 paper by a veteran scientist some of the origins and history is briefly mentioned and also that as data and computing power becomes available progress is being made. It mentions El Nino [paper see ref 1].  Strangers may need to get a conceptual understanding of the regular alignment of the earth moon and sun, where self evident effect on earth is the cyclic variation is ocean tidal height.

Over to Ian

1. A SUMMARY OF THE THREE PREVIOUS POSTS

If you are unfamiliar with this topic you may wish to read the following three post in order to understand this current covering post.

Observations of the Earth rate of spin (i.e. LOD) show that there are abrupt decreases in the Earth’s rotation rate of the order of a millisecond that take place roughly once every 13.7 days. These slow downs in spin occur whenever the oceanic (and atmospheric) tidal bulge is dragged across the Earth’s equator by the Moon. They are produced by the conservation of total angular momentum of the Earth, its oceans and its atmosphere.

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Exceptionally detailed image of a young star 450 light years away reveals detail of proto-planetary disc with gaps. :

This image compares the size of the Solar System with HL Tauri and its surrounding protoplanetary disc. Although the star is much smaller than the Sun, the disc around HL Tauri stretches out to almost three times as far from the star as Neptune is from the Sun.

This image compares the size of the Solar System with HL Tauri and its surrounding protoplanetary disc. Although the star is much smaller than the Sun, the disc around HL Tauri stretches out to almost three times as far from the star as Neptune is from the Sun.

HL Tauri — a young star, about 450 light-years away, which is surrounded by a dusty disc [1]. The resulting image exceeds all expectations and reveals unexpectedly fine detail in the disc of material left over from star birth. It shows a series of concentric bright rings, separated by gaps [2].

“These features are almost certainly the result of young planet-like bodies that are being formed in the disc. This is surprising since such young stars are not expected to have large planetary bodies capable of producing the structures we see in this image,” said Stuartt Corder, ALMA Deputy Director.

When we first saw this image we were astounded at the spectacular level of detail. HL Tauri is no more than a million years old, yet already its disc appears to be full of forming planets. This one image alone will revolutionise theories of planet formation,” explained Catherine Vlahakis, ALMA Deputy Program Scientist and Lead Program Scientist for the ALMA Long Baseline Campaign.

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Michele left a comment on suggestions but the surprise came later

Big Ar 2192 and flare X1.1 + CME

Image

Note the Solex date: 14th October 2014, today is the 19th.

I looked at the Spaceweather archive for the 14th and of course the authors did not know what was about to happen

SOLAR SECTOR BOUNDARY CROSSING: High-latitude auroras are possible on Oct. 14th when Earth crosses through a fold in the heliospheric current sheet. This is called a “solar sector boundary crossing,” and NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when it occurs.

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The size of the sun is of critical importance to solar studies yet this is poorly known, let alone if and how the size varies over time. Paper published this week in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Image

Fig.1. Left: solar radius measurements (red symbols) made since the seventeenth century (Rozelot & Damiani 2012). The mean value of all these measurements is close to 960 arcsec. Right: focus on solar radius measurements made since 1970. …

Fig.2. Evolution of the solar radius variations over time for ground instruments (Solar Astrolabe, DORAYSOL and SODISMII monthly mean at 782.2 nm), balloon experiment (SDS), and space instrument (MDI) vs. daily sunspot number time-series. For each series, the mean has been taken as reference value.

Fig.2. Evolution of the solar radius variations over time for ground instruments (Solar Astrolabe, DORAYSOL and SODISMII monthly mean at 782.2 nm), balloon experiment (SDS), and space instrument (MDI) vs. daily sunspot number time-series. For each series, the mean has been
taken as reference value.

 

Ground-based measurements of the solar diameter during the rising phase of solar cycle 24
M. Meftah, T. Corbard, A. Irbah, R. Ikhlef, F. Morand, C. Renaud, A. Hauchecorne, P. Assus, J. Borgnino, B. Chauvineau, M. Crepel, F. Dalaudier, L. Damé, D. Djafer, M. Fodil, P. Lesueur, G. Poiet, M. Rouzé, A. Sarkissian, A.Ziad, and F. Laclare

Paper access is available with registration.

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The Talkshop has an interest in orbital periods, spin-orbit coupling, the equalisation by nature of the gaps between objects.

Image

Rotational properties of the binary and non-binary populations
in the trans-Neptunian belt
A. Thirouin, K. S. Noll. J. L. Ortiz, and N. Morales
Published online 8th Sept 2014
Astronomy & Astrophysics (early access on registration)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201423567

Abstract

We present results for the short-term variability of binary trans-Neptunian objects (BTNOs). …

A second older paper may be of interest

Image

 

CHARACTERIZATION OF SEVEN ULTRA-WIDE TRANS-NEPTUNIAN BINARIES
Alex H. Parker, JJ Kavelaars, Jean-Marc Petit, Lynne Jones, Brett Gladman, Joel Parker
Version 2 published late 2011
The Astrophysical Journal, open access copy, http://arxiv.org/abs/1108.2505v2
http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/743/1/1

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One of the advantages of being billed by the most self important climate discussion website in the world as being a purveyor of ‘way out there theory’, is that I can publish whatever I like with no risk of further reputational damage. So when Stuart (Oldbrew) spotted that Miles Mathis has written a paper inspired by the same NASA material we have been discussing recently, I thought, why the hell not? Miles has been developing his ideas about a fundamental photon charge field underlying observed electro-magnetic phenomena for several years now, and has built up quite a corpus of work. This makes it difficult to absorb his stuff without clicking through to read his previous papers, and you soon find yourself in a labyrinth of ‘too many tabs’ open in your browser. Nonetheless, he is always entertaining, and thought provoking, even if it will be a while before we can see whether the predictions he makes based on his theory turn out to be correct. At least he has the guts to make definite predictions in the first place. None of your mealy mouthed ‘may’, ‘could’ and ‘perhaps’ ‘narrative scenario projections’ with Miles. He shoots fro the hip. Good lad. :)

mathis-sc-title

First published September 6, 2014

One of my readers sent me a link to wonderful new data from NASA. Although NASA and the rest of
the mainstream are not so good when it comes to theory, they are quite adept at compiling data, so I
have to thank them in this case. Without their numbers I could do nothing.

It has been known for a long time that the main Solar cycle is about 11 years, but that is just an
average. It goes from a minimum of about 9 years up to about 14 years. Although some theories have
been presented, the cause of all three numbers is unknown. I will show you the correct answer here.
The reason I so quickly hit on the right answer is that I knew where to look. In my other long paper on
Sun cycles (ice ages), I have already shown that Jupiter is the cause of the secondary variance. In this
case we will see that Jupiter is the cause of the primary variance.

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An important new(ish) paper from a team including Ken McCracken looks at the likely continuing slowdown in solar activity:

McC-etal-fig3

CharlesW. Smith1,2, K. G. McCracken3, Nathan A. Schwadron1,2, and Molly L. Goelzer2,4
1Physics Department, Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA, 2Institute for
the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA, 3Institute of Physical
Science and Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA, 4Department of Chemical Engineering,
University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA

Abstract
Recent papers have linked the heliospheric magnetic flux to the sunspot cycle with good
correlation observed between prediction and observation. Other papers have shown a strong correlation
between magnetic flux and solar wind proton flux from coronal holes. We combine these efforts with
an expectation that the sunspot activity of the approaching solar minimum will resemble the Dalton or
Gleissberg Minimum and predict that the magnetic flux and solar wind proton flux over the coming decade
will be lower than at any time during the space age. Using these predictions and established theory, we
also predict record high galactic cosmic ray intensities over the same years. The analysis shown here is a
prediction of global space climate change within which space weather operates. It predicts a new parameter
regime for the transient space weather behavior that can be expected during the coming decade.

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How Weird Is Our Solar System?

Posted: August 24, 2014 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, solar system dynamics

Exoplanet: artist's interpretation [credit: NASA]

Exoplanet: artist’s interpretation
[credit: NASA]


Why haven’t exoplanet searches uncovered any solar systems similar to our own? Most appear to have fewer planets – although detection can be difficult – than ours, and often orbit a lot closer to their star than our planets do, plus there’s something else.

astrobites asks: ‘Earth and its Solar System compatriots all have nearly circular orbits, but many exoplanets orbit their stars on wildly eccentric paths. Is our home system strange? Or is our sense of the data skewed?’

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Mars-Earth comparison [image credit: Wikipedia]

Mars-Earth comparison
[image credit: Wikipedia]


It’s an old question, and investigations are hotting up.

Phys.org reports: ‘On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring will pass by Mars only 132,000 km away—which would be like a comet passing about 1/3 of the distance between Earth and the Moon.’

In other words, very close. And NASA’s MAVEN probe will arrive at Mars just in time to see the show.

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A quantum of space hype at NASA?

Posted: August 8, 2014 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, innovation, Uncertainty

To boldly go... [image credit: Wikipedia]

To boldly go…
[image credit: Wikipedia]


Is NASA close to inventing a ‘quantum spaceship’?

The New Scientist quotes astronomer and blogger Phil Plait:

‘The internet has been buzzing about a paper published by a team of engineers at NASA claiming that they have built a device that creates thrust without propellant. There have been lots of articles written about it, it’s spawned a zillion tweets, and I’m getting plenty of emails asking me about it.’

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