Archive for the ‘Solar physics’ Category

A New Form of Space Weather on Betelgeuse

Posted: August 18, 2022 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Solar physics

“We’re watching stellar evolution in real time.”

August 12, 2022: You’ve heard of a CME, a “coronal mass ejection.” They happen all the time. A piece of the sun’s tenuous outer atmosphere (corona) blows off and sometimes hits Earth. Something far more terrible has happened to Betegeuse. The red giant star produced an SME, or “surface mass ejection.”

Above: An artist’s concept of an SME on Betelgeuse. Credit: Elizabeth Wheatley (STScI)

Astronomers believe that in 2019 a colossal piece of Betelgeuse’s surface blew off the star. The mass of the SME was 400 billion times greater than a CME or several times the mass of Earth’s Moon. Data from multiple telescopes, especially Hubble, suggest that a convective plume more than a million miles across bubbled up from deep inside the star, producing shocks and pulsations that blasted a chunk off the surface.

“We’ve never before seen such a huge mass ejection from the surface of a…

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The Bastille Day Event

Posted: July 14, 2022 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Solar physics, solar system dynamics

Some interesting solar physics here.

July 14, 2022: When a solar storm is so strong that the Voyager spacecraft feel it at the edge of the solar system, you know it must be special. Twenty-two years ago today, July 14, 2000, the lonely travelers were on the verge of escaping space weather altogether when giant sunspot AR9077 exploded. The flare was so intense, it sent shockwaves to the very edge of the solar system.

SOHO images of the Bastille Day solar flare (left) and CME (right). The onset of snow in the images is a result of energetic protons hitting the spacecraft

Earth was on the doorstep of the blast, dubbed The “Bastille Day Event” because it coincided with the national day of France. Subatomic particles, especially protons, arrived in a ferocious wave, peppering satellites and penetrating deep into Earth’s atmosphere. Sensors on Earth’s surface registered a rare GLE–a “ground-level event.”

“People flying in commercial…

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The Termination Event has Arrived

Posted: February 26, 2022 by oldbrew in Cycles, Solar physics, solar system dynamics

According to a new theory of solar cycles, that is.

Feb. 25, 2022: Something big just happened on the sun. Solar physicists Scott McIntosh (NCAR) and Bob Leamon (U. Maryland-Baltimore) call it “The Termination Event.”

“Old Solar Cycle 24 has finally died–it was terminated!” says McIntosh. “Now the new solar cycle, Solar Cycle 25, can really take off.”

The “Termination Event” is a new idea in solar physics, outlined by McIntosh and Leamon in a December 2020 paper in the journal Solar Physics. Not everyone accepts it–yet. If Solar Cycle 25 unfolds as McIntosh and Leamon predict, the Termination Event will have to be taken seriously.

Above: Predictions for Solar Cycle 25. Green would be average. Blue is the “official” prediction of a weak cycle. Red is a 2020 prediction based on the Termination Event.

The basic idea is this: Solar Cycle 25 (SC25) started in Dec. 2019. However, old Solar Cycle 24 (SC24) refused to go away. It…

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Huge Explosion on the Farside of the Sun

Posted: February 20, 2022 by oldbrew in Solar physics

The culprit could be coming into view in the next day or so.

Feb. 17, 2022: New images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) are giving us a better look at yesterday’s farside explosion. SOHO coronagraphs recorded the most dramatic CME in years:

No, there won’t be a geomagnetic storm. The explosion happened on the farside of the sun, so the CME is heading away from Earth. We dodged a bullet.

Some readers have asked “How strong was the underlying solar flare?” We don’t know. Solar flares are classified by their X-ray output, but there are no spacecraft on the farside of the sun with X-ray sensors. Best guess: It was an X-flare.

You might suppose that the farside of the sun is hidden from view. However, researchers using a technique called “helioseismology” can make crude maps of the sun’s hidden hemisphere. Their latest map reveals a huge farside active region:

The black blob is a sunspot group–a big one–and…

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Over at WUWT, Willis has been up to his usual trick of mangling data in a vain attempt to discredit scientists who find strong links between the Sun’s variation and Earth’s weather and climatic patterns. This time it’s Le Mouel et al who get the treatment in his ‘analysis’ of their 2010 paper “Solar forcing of the semi‐annual variation of length‐of‐day

As usual, Willis gets things upside down and then sets up a straw-man argument. He asks: “So … is there a correlation between sunspots and zonal wind speeds?” The answer to which is no, and the paper’s authors never claimed there was. However, as Fig 1 of Le Mouel et al’s paper shows, there is a strong anti-correlation between solar variation and the semi-annual variation of Length of Day (LOD) which is itself well correlated with changes in zonal wind speeds. For obvious reasons, Willis doesn’t show his readers Fig 1, reproduced here for your academic study.

Figure 1. Long‐term variations in the amplitude a of the semiannual oscillation in lod (in blue). A 4‐yr centered sliding
window is used. (a) Comparison of the semiannual amplitude of lod with the sunspot number WN (red); WN is both
reversed in sign and offset by one year
(see text). (b) Comparison of the detrended semiannual amplitude of lod (blue) with
the sunspot number WN (red); WN is reversed in sign and offset by one year. (c) Comparison of the semiannual amplitude
of lod (blue) with galactic cosmic ray flux GCR (red); GCR is neither reversed in sign nor offset (see text).

A year after I wrote the original ‘Why Phi’ post explaining my discovery of the Fibonacci sequence links between solar system orbits and planetary synodic periods here at the Talkshop in 2013, my time and effort got diverted into politics. The majority of ongoing research into this important topic has been furthered by my co-blogger Stuart ‘Oldbrew’ Graham. Over the last eight years he has published many articles here using the ‘Why Phi’ tag looking at various subsystems of planetary and solar interaction periodicities, resonances, and their relationships with well known climatic periodicities such as the De Vries, Hallstatt, Hale and Jose cycles, as well as exoplanetary systems exhibiting the same Fibonacci-resonant arrangements.

Recently, Stuart contacted me with news of a major breakthrough in his investigations. In the space of a few hours spent making his calculator hot, major pieces of the giant jigsaw had all come together and brought ‘the big picture’ into focus. In fact, so much progress has been made that we’re not going to try to put it all into a single post. Instead, we’ll provide an overview here, and follow it up with further articles getting into greater detail.


Solar Tsunami and CME

Posted: August 30, 2021 by oldbrew in Solar physics


Sunspot AR 2860 is a ‘monster’.

Aug. 27, 2021: Sunspot AR2859 erupted on Aug. 26th, producing a C3-class solar flare: movie. The flare, however, was not the main attraction. The eruption also caused a massive “solar tsunami.” Watch the shadowy wave ripple across the sun in this false-color ultraviolet movie from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The expanding circular shadow is a wave of hot plasma and magnetism. Based on the time it took to reach the next sunspot, halfway around the sun, the tsunami was traveling faster than 110,000 mph.

Solar tsumanis always herald a CME, and this one was no exception. Soon after the tsunami broke, SOHO coronagraphs detected a plasma cloud leaving the sun: movie.

Update: NOAA analysts have modeled the CME’s trajectory. They predict an Earth impact during the late hours of Aug. 29th, possibly sparking G1-class geomagnetic storms through midday on Aug. 30th.   Aurora alerts:SMS Text.


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The last time we took a look at Leif Svalgaard’s SC25 prediction in 2018, he was predicting a peak amplitude of around 140SSN in 2024 according to the plot or (giving himself more latitude) “SC25 will be somewhere between SC24 and SC20, provided the Polar Field Precursor Relationship holds.”

This has been modified in his latest presentation on the subject. The peak amplitude has been revised downwards to 128+/-10SSN.


Ned Nikolov, Ph.D. Has written to me with news of the presentations he made at this years AMS meeting. It’s vital we get people to understand the implications of the discoveries he and Karl Zeller have made. With our western governments jumping aboard the ‘Green New Deal’ and ‘NetZero’ bandwagons, we will need to work hard to rise awareness of viable alternative hypotheses for ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ which better explain the phenomena we can measure around us. Ned and Karl’s work should be given proper attention, because it strives for universality and general application of physics solar system wide, rather then treating Earth as a ‘special case’.

Two studies presented at the American Meteorological Society’s 34th Conference on Climate Variability and Change in January 2021 employed a novel approach to identify the forcing of Earth’s climate at various time scales. The new method, never attempted in climate science before, relies on the fundamental premise that the laws of nature are invariant across spacetime.


Back in 2016, the UK MET Office’s median projection to the start of 2021 forecast a global temperature temperature anomaly of 1.4C above their 1850-1900 “Pre-Industrial” baseline. Their recently published five year model projection (rightmost blue blob on graph), shows a 2021 median anomaly 0.35C lower, at 1.05C.

Their HADcruT 4GL temperature time series (data since 2016 added in red on graph) shows a linear trend of +0.09C/semi-decade for the last 50 years. CO2, by far the biggest forcing in their model, is still rising in lockstep with the 50 year temperature trend. What could have caused this remarkable downward step change in their model output?



‘Scientists use an extended, 22-year solar cycle to make the forecast’ is the sub-heading to the article. In other words the Hale cycle. At the end of last year The Talkshop detailed Plenty of predictions from a wide range of research groups, including our own, made in 2013. A possible (?) early indicator is that the ‘smoothed minimum’ of sunspots at the start of solar cycle 25 is given by Wikipedia as 1.8, the lowest recorded since cycle 7 (0.2) in 1823.
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In direct contradiction to the official forecast, a team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is predicting that the Sunspot Cycle that started this fall could be one of the strongest since record-keeping began, says NCAR News.

In a new article published in Solar Physics, the research team predicts that Sunspot Cycle 25 will peak with a maximum sunspot number somewhere between approximately 210 and 260, which would put the new cycle in the company of the top few ever observed.


Quiet sun [image credit: NASA]

H/t to Electroverse for the heads up on this paper detailing the effect of reduced solar activity and cyclic oceanic oscillations on Canadian agriculture. Let’s hope the policymakers see through the warming dogma in time.

Is Diminishing Solar Activity Detrimental to Canadian Prairie Agriculture?

Ray Garnett¹*, Madhav Khandekar² and Rupinder Kaur³

Abstract: During the grain growing months of May-July, the mean temperature on the Canadian prairies has cooled down by 2ºC in the last 30 years. The cooling appears to be most certainly linked to diminishing solar activity as the Sun approaches a Grand Solar Minimum in the next decade or so. This cooling has led to a reduction in Growing Degree Days (GDDs) and has also impacted the precipitation pattern. The GDDs in conjunction with mean temperature and precipitation are important parameters for the growth of various grains (wheat, barley, canola etc.) on the prairies.


Quiet sun [image credit: NASA]

They picked an interesting time to study the Sun, as it starts to emerge from an unusually deep and long-lasting solar minimum. What effect this might have on Earth’s weather systems of course remains to be seen, but could be hard to quantify. The researchers have a lot of data to work through, and are hoping for ‘unprecedented insights into the sun’.
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Three of the Solar Orbiter spacecraft’s instruments, including Imperial’s magnetometer, have released their first data, reports

The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft launched in February 2020 on its mission to study the sun and it began collecting science data in June.

Now, three of its ten instruments have released their first tranche of data, revealing the state of the sun in a ‘quiet’ phase.

The sun is known to follow an 11-year cycle of sunspot activity and is currently almost completely free of sunspots.


Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

But it should be a lot shorter than the famous Maunder Minimum, if the prediction in this editorial works out. There’s also a new paper, introduced here by the GWPF, which concludes:
“The fundamental oscillations of solar irradiance, in turn, may be linked to the oscillations of the baseline terrestrial temperature, independent of any terrestrial processes of radiative transfer and heating.”

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In this editorial I will demonstrate with newly discovered solar activity proxy-magnetic field that the Sun has entered into the modern Grand Solar Minimum (2020–2053) that will lead to a significant reduction of solar magnetic field and activity like during Maunder minimum leading to noticeable reduction of terrestrial temperature.

Sun is the main source of energy for all planets of the solar system. This energy is delivered to Earth in a form of solar radiation in different wavelengths, called total solar irradiance.

Variations of solar irradiance lead to heating of upper planetary atmosphere and complex processes of solar energy transport toward a planetary surface.

The signs of solar activity are seen in cyclic 11-year variations of a number of sunspots on the solar surface using averaged monthly sunspot numbers as a proxy of solar activity for the past 150 years.

Solar cycles were described by the action of solar dynamo mechanism in the solar interior generating magnetic ropes at the bottom of solar convective zone.

These magnetic ropes travel through the solar interior appearing on the solar surface, or photosphere, as sunspots indicating the footpoints where these magnetic ropes are embedded into the photosphere.

Continued here.
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Appendix 1: S-E distances from the ephemeris

Appendix 2: Solar irradiance variations based on the distance changes

Solar Cycle Update

Posted: July 15, 2020 by oldbrew in Cycles, Solar physics
Tags: ,

SC 25 – are we nearly there yet?

July 14, 2020: NOAA has released a new interactive tool to explore the solar cycle. It lets you scroll back through time, comparing sunspot counts now to peaks and valleys of the past. One thing is clear. Solar Minimum is here, and it’s one of the deepest in a century.


Solar Minimum is a natural part of the solar cycle. Every ~11 years, the sun transitions from high to low activity and back again. Solar Maximum. Solar Minimum. Repeat. The cycle was discovered in 1843 by Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, who noticed the pattern after counting sunspots for 17 years. We are now exiting Solar Cycle 24 and entering Solar Cycle 25.

During Solar Minimum, the sun is usually blank–that is, without sunspots. The solar disk often looks like a big orange billiard ball:

hmi1898 The spotless sun on July 13, 2020

In 2019, the sun went 281 days without sunspots, and…

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Ionized gas inside the Sun moves toward the poles near the surface and toward the equator at the base of the convection zone (at a depth of 200,000 km/125,000 miles).
Credit: MPS (Z.-C. Liang)

The title of the study cited in this report gives us the clue: ‘Meridional flow in the Sun’s convection zone is a single cell in each hemisphere’. The full cycle takes about 22 years on average, with a magnetic reversal halfway through.
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The sun’s magnetic activity follows an 11-year cycle. Over the course of a solar cycle, the sun’s magnetic activity comes and goes, says

During solar maximum, large sunspots and active regions appear on the sun’s surface. Spectacular loops of hot plasma stretch throughout the sun’s atmosphere and eruptions of particles and radiation shoot into interplanetary space.

During solar minimum, the sun calms down considerably. A striking regularity appears in the so-called butterfly diagram, which describes the position of sunspots in a time-latitude plot.


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 on March 19 and April 24, 2020: 


Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

The researchers’ sun clock looks like this.
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Extreme space weather events can significantly impact systems such as satellites, communications systems, power distribution and aviation, says a Warwick University press release.

They are driven by solar activity which is known to have an irregular but roughly 11 year cycle.

By devising a new, regular ‘sun clock’, researchers have found that the switch on and off of periods of high solar activity is quite sharp, and are able to determine the switch on/off times.

Their analysis shows that whilst extreme events can happen at any time, they are much less likely to occur in the quiet interval.


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.

Solar system [credit: BBC]

This new paper from our good friend Nicola Scafetta takes another look at the Sun’s cyclic behaviour and possible planetary influences on it, referencing various researchers whose work has appeared at the talkshop, along the way.
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Gravitational planetary lensing of slow-moving matter streaming towards the Sun was suggested to explain puzzling solar-flare occurrences and other unexplained solar-emission phenomena (Bertolucci et al. in Phys. Dark Universe 17, 13, 2017). If it is actually so, the effect of gravitational lensing of this stream by heavy planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) could be manifested in solar activity changes on longer time scales too where solar records present specific oscillations known in the literature as the cycles of Bray–Hallstatt (2100–2500 yr), Eddy (800–1200 yr), Suess–de Vries (200–250 yr), Jose (155–185 yr), Gleissberg (80–100 year), the 55–65 yr spectral cluster and others. It is herein hypothesized that these oscillations emerge from specific periodic planetary orbital configurations that generate particular waves in the force-fields of the heliosphere which could be able to synchronize solar activity.