Archive for the ‘Astrophysics’ Category


Much media attention on this new paper this week. Is there a surprise lurking in the details now that the orbit period of the seventh planet has been confirmed?.

What the numbers in the diagram show is the orbits per planet in a fixed period (top row), the conjunctions per planet pair in the same period (second row), and the ratios that represents (third row).

The number of conjunctions of any two planets is the difference between the two orbit numbers in a given period, which in this case is equivalent to just under 1446 Earth days (see data below).

Apart from the obvious symmetry of the ratios, something else arose from the science paper.

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Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the largest astronomical project in the world –
Magellanic Clouds near top of image [credit: NASA / Ames]


It’s unimaginably vast: astronomers say ‘this structure is a 75,000 light-year long filament of gas and dust’. Trying to separate out the effects of gravity and magnetism here should be an interesting challenge.

A magnetic field appears to span the space between the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the two dwarf galaxies being consumed by our Milky Way Galaxy, reports Sky & Telescope via Sott.net.

For stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s easy to forget that the Milky Way is actively consuming two dwarf galaxies. Those in the Southern Hemisphere have a front row seat to watch our galaxy wreak havoc on the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC).

But there’s more to the story — the dwarfs are not only gravitationally interacting with the Milky Way but with each other as well.

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The Lined Wolf

Let’s face it: KIC 8462852 (also Tabby’s Star or Boyajian’s Star) is a weird star. Since its unusual light variations were discovered by citizen scientists using data of NASA’s Kepler space telescope in September 2015 many, many things have been written by professional and amateur astronomers, science communicators and “searchers of mysteries”, as an interesting hypothesis about its behavior was that it could be signs of activity associated with intelligent extraterrestrial life constructing a Dyson swarm. Of course, this just run wild in general media, and many astronomers since them have been asked by journalist to talk about “Mysterious Tabby’s Star”.

In particular, this theme soon captured the attention of some of my friends at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC, Spain), as they weekly produce an amazing ~2h science communication podcast Coffee Break: Señal y Ruido (Signal to noise). I’m proud to participate in this podcast from…

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Exoplanets up to 90 times closer to their star than Earth is to the Sun.

Excellent – we outlined this ‘resonance chain’ (as they have now dubbed it) in an earlier post here at the Talkshop [see ‘Talkshop note’ in the linked post for details].

When NASA announced its discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system back in February it caused quite a stir, and with good reason says Phys.org.

Three of its seven Earth-sized planets lay in the star’s habitable zone, meaning they may harbour suitable conditions for life.

But one of the major puzzles from the original research describing the system was that it seemed to be unstable.

“If you simulate the system, the planets start crashing into one another in less than a million years,” says Dan Tamayo, a postdoc at U of T Scarborough’s Centre for Planetary Science.

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I’m not expecting much discussion of this post, I don’t understand it either, though I have run across KAM before in another context, and eventually some light may dawn that illuminates some relationship with our phi-solar system dynamics work. I’ll just leave it here for now so it doesn’t get lost. One random synchrony is that Gabriella Pinzari is at the same university as Nicola Scafetta. Maybe we can get him interested enough to talk to her about our theory.

The following message is a guest post by Boris Khesin. Boris summarizes the wonderful talk given by Gabriella Pinzari at the workshop.  –Jim Colliander

Ecliptic_plane_3d_viewGabriella Pinzari (30min talk) described her joint result with her advisor Luigi Chierchia on a recently found fix for the famous KAM theorem, or rather for its application to the stability of the Solar system.

Namely, the original KAM theorem in Arnold’s 1963 paper claimed the persistence of the Liouville tori for perturbations of integrable systems under some nondegeneracy assumption – some determinant must be nonzero. This was a perfectly correct statement proved in the paper. But Arnold applied it to the Solar system without properly checking that for that system the determinant is indeed nonzero. (More precisely, Arnold checked the non-degeneracy condition for the first nontrivial case, the planar three-body problem, and claimed that this could extend to the general case: spatial, arbitrary n.) However, it turned out to be identically zero in the spatial case.

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Astrophysicist Ian Wilson has emailed me to ask for a brainstorming session at the talkshop to assist him. Ian writes:

“I was wondering if you or your colleagues (e.g. oldbrew) could help me work out the solution to the following lunar puzzle”

Drift_01

The Conundrum

The diagram below shows the Perigee of the lunar orbit pointing at the Sun at 0.0 days. In addition, the diagram shows the Perigee of the lunar orbit once again pointing at the Sun after one Full Moon Cycle (FMC) = 411.78443025 days. It takes more than 1.0 sidereal year (= 365.256363004 days) for the Perigee to realign with the Sun because of the slow pro-grade (clockwise) precession of the lunar line-of-apse once every 8.85023717 sidereal years.

1.0 FMC falls short of 15 anomalistic months (= 413.31824817 days) by 1.53381792 days (= 1.5117449198O). During these 1.5117449198 days the Perigee end of the lunar line-of-apse rotates by 0.17081406in a prograde direction, producing an overall movement of the line-of-apse (red line) of 1.34093086O (= 1.5117449198O – 0.17081406O) with respect to the Earth-Sun line (blue line).

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The satellites won’t land as the surface pressure – 92 times that of Earth – and heat of Venus would destroy them. Instead they will look for a ‘mysterious substance’ thought to be lurking in its atmosphere.

NASA has spent $3.6 million to build 12 small satellites to explore the planet Venus in search of a mysterious substance that absorbs half the planet’s light, reports The Daily Caller.

The CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE) mission will launch the satellites to investigate atmospheric processes on Venus. The 12 satellites vary in size. One is less than four inches across and weighs a few ounces. Another weighs 400 pounds.
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gr_prob
The research team thinks its results are ‘difficult to understand in terms of dark matter’, reports Phys.org. The study was earlier reported here.

The distribution of normal matter precisely determines gravitational acceleration in all common types of galaxies, a team led by Case Western Reserve University researchers reports.

The team has shown this radial acceleration relation exists in nearby high-mass elliptical and low-mass spheroidal galaxies, building on last year’s discovery of this relation in spiral and irregular galaxies.

This provides further support that the relation is tantamount to a new natural law, the researchers say.
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Dwarf galaxy NGC 5264 [image credit: ESA/Hubble]

Dwarf galaxy NGC 5264 [image credit: ESA/Hubble]


Dark matter faces quantised inertia. One of these ideas must leave town, or the galaxies, it seems.

British physicist Dr Mike McCulloch, who previously used quantised inertia to explain how the controversial electromagnetic space propulsion technology EmDrive works, says that he has new evidence showing his theory can also explain galaxy rotation, which is one of physics’ biggest mysteries, as the IB Times reports.

McCulloch, a lecturer in geomatics at Plymouth University’s school of marine science and engineering, says he now has even more evidence that his “new physics theory” about quantised inertia works, and that it makes it possible to explain why galaxies are not ripped apart without using theory of dark matter.

One of the biggest problems in physics today is how galaxies rotate. Galaxies are collections of millions of stars swirling around, and galaxies spin so rapidly that their centrifugal force should cause them fly apart, as there isn’t enough visible matter in them to hold them together by the force of gravity.
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aliens1
Aliens might be the ‘Hollywood solution’ but those tend to be fictional. On the other hand, plausible explanations are elusive.

Astronomers may have to think a little harder to solve the mystery of Boyajian’s star reports Space.com.

In September 2015, Yale University’s Tabetha Boyajian and her colleagues reported that the star KIC 8462852 has dimmed dramatically multiple times over the past seven years, once by an astounding 22 percent. 

NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope spotted these dimming events. But the brightness dips of “Boyajian’s star,” as it has come to be known, were far too significant to be caused by an orbiting planet, so astronomers began thinking of alternative explanations.

Researchers have come up with many possible causes for the dimming, including a swarm of broken-apart comet fragments, variability in the activity of the star itself, a cloud of some sort in the interstellar medium between Kepler and Boyajian’s star, and, most famously, an orbiting “megastructure” built by an alien civilization to collect stellar energy.

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hd163296

The spacing of the three rings described has a ratio of 3:5:8 according to the data given (60:100:160 AU) by Phys.org. This Fibonacci pattern may be telling us something about planetary formation.

Rice University astronomers and their colleagues have for the first time mapped gases in three dark rings around a distant star. The rings mark spaces where planets are thought to have formed from dust and gas around the star.

All the rings around HD 163296 are devoid of dust, and the international team of researchers led by Rice astronomer Andrea Isella is sure that planets, probably gas giants with masses comparable to Saturn, are responsible for clearing the outermost ones.

But the inner ring has far more carbon monoxide than the other two, leading them to believe no planet exists there. That remains unexplained, he said.

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Ex U.S. Naval Observatory astronomer and long-time talkshopper Gerry Pease has sent me a link to an update of the paper he wrote with Gregory Glenn which we discussed recently. It represents some important and novel work in our field of solar-planetary theory. Of particular interest is the tight phase and magnitude coherence of solar-barycentric torque over the last two Jose cycles.

jose-torque

Gerry writes:

v2 of  Long Term Sunspot Cycle Phase Coherence is now available at https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1610/1610.03553.pdf.

Figure 2 has a corrected scale, Figure 3 has been added, Figure 4 replaces the previous Figure 3 with an improved overlay Figure, and Figures 3-33 have been renumbered as Figures 4-34. Less than one page of important additional explanatory text has been added, but I am confident that Talkshop readers will find the added information and improved charts well worth a read.

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I’m working away for the next fortnight, with no internet access. So I thought I’d put up something for the bright denizens of the talkshop to chew on while I’m gone. Bode’s Law is a heuristic equation which gives the approximate distance to the first seven major planets plus Ceres. reasonably well, but then goes completely off the rails as you can see in Figure 1 below.

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titus-bode_law

Figure 1 Titius-Bode equation (red) vs planets (blue)

I’ve always thought the Titius-Bode equation to be a fudge. It doesn’t relate to any physical concepts that have anything to do with orbits or gravity. So I’ve come up with something better.

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A 'normal' binary system

A ‘normal’ binary system


Have fun trying to imagine how this solar system works, as iTech Post describes its unusual structure.

Astronomers have discovered the first binary-binary solar system. The discovery is said to have implications on the way people perceive the solar system was formed.

The discovered solar system has two stars as well and a planet revolving. The new binary system has been named HD 87646. It is made up of one star, a brown dwarf star, and a massive planet, according to Science Daily. The large planet is 12 times the mass of Jupiter while the brown dwarf is 57 times the mass of Jupiter. The two are in close proximity as well to the primary star.

What makes the system interesting is that it defies what people know how a solar system is. Typically astronomers think that the solar system formed out of a disk dust cloud, with the large outer planets farther out from the primary star. Yet with HD 87646 the objects are far closer than how the outer planets are in our solar system.

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The three star system, with two young stars closer together and one further out. [credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)]

The three star system, with two young stars closer together and one further out.
[credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)]


ScienceDaily reports an unusual (to date) set-up involving three stars with a clear relationship in their average distances from each other. Quote: ‘The most central of the young stars is separated from the other two by 61 and 183 times the Earth-Sun distance’. The ratio of 61:183 is 1:3

For the first time, astronomers have seen a dusty disk of material around a young star fragmenting into a multiple-star system.

Scientists had suspected such a process, caused by gravitational instability, was at work, but new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) revealed the process in action.

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Where to find Proxima Centauri [credit: Wikipedia]

Where to find Proxima Centauri [credit: Wikipedia]


Co-author Jeremy Drake said: “The existence of a cycle in Proxima Centauri shows that we don’t understand how stars’ magnetic fields are generated as well as we thought we did.” Let the head-scratching begin.

Observations confirm that the closest star to our solar system has a regular magnetic cycle similar to our Sun, reports Sky & Telescope.

With the recent discovery of a potentially habitable planet around Proxima Centauri, astronomers have been studying this star with renewed fervor. Part of their attention focuses on the star’s behavior. M dwarfs are notorious for their flares, and such stellar tantrums could be deadly for budding life on nearby planets.

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An Interview Given by Dr. Ned Nikolov (a.k.a. Den Volokin) to Ben Guarino,
a Staff Writer at The Washington Post
Sep. 17, 2016

Research Paper Withdrawal by the Journal Advances in Space Research  

peer-reviewQ1: As succinctly as possible, could you tell me why you chose to publish this work under a pseudonym?

A1: We adopted pseudonyms as a measure of last resort as we could not get an unbiased and fair review from scientific journals under our real names. This is explained in more details in the attached letter we sent to the chief editor of the Journal Advances in Space Research (JASR) on Sep. 17, 2015. In brief, our real names became known to the climate-science blogosphere in 2012 when a poster, which we presented at an International Climate Conference in Denver in 2011, became available online and caused broad and intense discussions. When we later tried to publish elements of this poster as separate articles in scientific journals, we discovered that journal editors and reviewers would reject our manuscripts outright after Googling our names and reading the online discussion. The rejections were oftentimes justified by the journals using criticisms outside the scope of the manuscript at hand.  On two occasions, journal editors have even refused to send our manuscripts for review after reading the blogs and realizing the broader theoretical implications of our results, although the manuscript itself did not explicitly discuss any new theory. For example, our first paper was rejected 4 times by different journals while submitted under our real names before it was finally accepted by SpringerPlus after submitting it under pseudonyms.

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fig1-scafetta

 

Nicola Scafetta writes:

Dear all,

it was a pleasure to meet you at London. Some of you asked me about my paper in press about a link between astronomical, solar and climate oscillations. Here it is:

Scafetta, N., Milani, F., Antonio Bianchini, A., Ortolani, S.: On the astronomical origin of the Hallstatt oscillation found in radiocarbon and climate records throughout the Holocene. Earth-Science Reviews 162, 24–43, 2016. There is a free access to the article, and is valid for anybody until November 10, 2016 by using this link  http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1TlSB2weQTZcD

(Permanent copy here)

The importance of the article is that it demonstrates quite clearly that the long Hallstatt oscillation (about 2318 year period), which is observed in climate and solar records is a major stable resonance of the solar system. The paper also evaluates the other major planetary stable resonances and we found all other typical oscillations found in climate and solar records such as a quasi 20-year oscillation, a quasi 60-year oscillation, the 82-97 year Gleissberg oscillation and the 159-185 year Jose oscillation (and others).

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

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


One in the eye for dark matter theorists it seems, as Phys.org reports.

In the late 1970s, astronomers Vera Rubin and Albert Bosma independently found that spiral galaxies rotate at a nearly constant speed: the velocity of stars and gas inside a galaxy does not decrease with radius, as one would expect from Newton’s laws and the distribution of visible matter, but remains approximately constant.

Such ‘flat rotation curves’ are generally attributed to invisible, dark matter surrounding galaxies and providing additional gravitational attraction.

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A long way from the Sun: theoretical Planet Nine

A long way from the Sun: theoretical Planet Nine


This story surfaced two months ago but – better late than never – we’d like to draw it to the attention of Talkshop readers, at least those who haven’t seen it already.

Two recent studies have shown that the existence of a mysterious, hypothetical Planet Nine could explain why the planets in our Solar System don’t fully line up with the Sun, reports ScienceAlert.

Researchers have been speculating about a ninth planet since January this year, and these latest studies add more weight to the hypothesis that, at some point in time at least, there was an extra planet orbiting our Sun.

In fact, if Planet Nine does exist (or did), it would help to explain something that scientists have puzzled over for decades – why the Solar System is tilted.

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