Archive for the ‘solar system dynamics’ Category

Jupiter’s ‘Great Red Spot’ [image credit: NASA]

It seems to be turning into the not-so-great orange spot. Could this be a feature of climate change Jupiter-style?

Though once big enough to swallow three Earths with room to spare, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has been shrinking for a century and a half, says Astronomy Now. Nobody is sure how long the storm will continue to contract or whether it will disappear altogether.

A new study suggests that it hasn’t all been downhill, though. The storm seems to have increased in area at least once along the way, and it’s growing taller as it gets smaller.


Cyclones in Jupiter’s atmosphere [image credit: NASA]

Octagon and pentagon (8:5) shapes at the poles, with groups of cyclones in a 9:6 (= 3:2) polar ratio. Fascinating.

Jupiter’s poles are blanketed by geometric clusters of cyclones and its atmosphere is deeper than scientists suspected, says

These are just some of the discoveries reported by four international research teams Wednesday, based on observations by NASA’s Juno spacecraft circling Jupiter.

One group uncovered a constellation of nine cyclones over Jupiter’s north pole and six over the south pole. The wind speeds exceed Category 5 hurricane strength in places, reaching 220 mph (350 kph).

The massive storms haven’t changed position much—or merged—since observations began.


NASA image of the day: Sun’s quiet corona [credit: NASA/SDO]

‘Magnetic’ seems to mean ‘electromagnetic’ in this report. There’s a definition of an Alfvén wave here.

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have led an international team to the ground-breaking discovery that magnetic waves crashing through the sun may be key to heating its atmosphere and propelling the solar wind, as reports.

The sun is the source of energy that sustains all life on Earth but much remains unknown about it. However, a group of researchers at Queen’s have now unlocked some mysteries in a research paper, which has been published in Nature Physics.

In 1942, Swedish physicist and engineer Hannes Alfvén predicted the existence of a new type of wave due to magnetism acting on a plasma, which led him to obtain the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1970.

Since his prediction, Alfvén waves have been associated with a variety of sources, including nuclear reactors, the gas cloud that envelops comets, laboratory experiments, medical MRI imaging and in the atmosphere of our nearest star – the sun.


Giant planets of the solar system [image credit:]

This post on the ice giants Uranus and Neptune follows on from this one:
Why Phi? – Jupiter, Saturn and the inner solar system

The main focus will be on Uranus. A planetary conjunction of three bodies (e.g. two planets and the Sun, in line) is also known as a syzygy.

Here’s the notation for the table shown below:
J-S = Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions
S-U = Saturn-Uranus conjunctions
U-N = Uranus-Neptune conjunctions

Each of the columns: U, S-U, J-S shows a Fibonacci progression.

Accuracy of best match is between 99.965% and 99.991%.

Quoting Wikipedia: ‘The mathematics of the golden ratio and of the Fibonacci sequence are intimately interconnected.’
The Greek letter φ (phi) represents the golden ratio.


A Theory Of Ice Ages

Posted: February 14, 2018 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Some blue-ice thinking from Frank Davis. We like open, out of the box discussions about the cause of ice ages at the talkshop. This is as good a starter for 10 as any.

Frank Davis

Forty years ago I was in university working on energy conservation in buildings. I worked with an electronic analogue simulation model in which thermal resistance was represented by electrical resistance, temperature by voltage, heat flow by current. My job was to control the model with one of the new microcomputers that had become available. I spent a lot of my time with a soldering iron and wires and Veroboards, getting DACs and ADCs and other bits of electronics working.

Eventually the money ran out, and I left the university, and became a freelance software engineer, working on all sorts of stuff unrelated to energy conservation.

But I never forgot what I’d learned during that time. And so I’ve always been interested in Anthropogenic Global Warming, because it’s essentially all about heat flow, although in the Earth’s atmosphere rather than in the walls and rooms of buildings. And it’s prompted me…

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Solar wind at Mars [image credit:]

The researchers say ‘the solar wind likely only had a very small direct effect on the amount of Mars atmosphere that has been lost over time.’ This makes them suspect that ‘a magnetic field is not as important in shielding a planet’s atmosphere as the planet’s gravity itself.’ It was always hard to see how the magnetic shield theory worked when Venus with its dense atmosphere has little magnetism.

The Red Planet’s low gravity and lack of magnetic field makes its outermost atmosphere an easy target to be swept away by the solar wind, but new evidence from ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft shows that the Sun’s radiation may play a surprising role in its escape, reports

Why the atmospheres of the rocky planets in the inner solar system evolved so differently over 4.6 billion years is key to understanding what makes a planet habitable.


Solar flare [image credit: NASA/SDO]

The “entangled magnetic ‘rope’ forms” leading to eruptions sound similar to Birkeland currents, which can become like ‘twisted or braided rope’ and also feature in auroras.

A single phenomenon may underlie all solar eruptions, according to researchers from the CNRS, École Polytechnique, CEA and INRIA in an article featured on the cover of the February 8 issue of Nature.

They have identified the presence of a confining ‘cage’ in which an entangled magnetic ‘rope’ forms, causing solar eruptions, reports

It is the resistance of this cage to the attack of the rope that determines the power and type of the upcoming flare.

This work has enabled the scientists to develop a model capable of predicting the maximum energy that can be released during a solar flare, which could have potentially devastating consequences for the Earth.



Posted: February 3, 2018 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Pointman dissects the import of the Nunes memo, and the deeper malaise lurking behind its revelations.


With the publication of the FISA memo, you’re going to be getting finely detailed analyses, retrospective construction of the pertinent timelines, what’s actually in it and so on. Instead of following that route, I’d like to make some general observations, drawn from my own experiences dealing with similar but more modest situations, about how the events detailed in it could ever come about, who I think are the other culprits ducking furiously the fan-propelled ordure, the eternal question of what is to be done, and last but not least, what are the deeper implications of the insight America has just had into the inner workings of what President Trump rightly named the Washington swamp.

As usual, Trump has used the opportunity to its most devastating effect. It’s another Trump Zugzwang, with no non-damaging way out of it for the opposition. He’s been extremely careful to stay remote from its…

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moggThere is a great Brexit opportunity and some really obvious benefits that we can get that improve the condition of the people. This is currently at risk. The negotiations that are about to begin sound as if they aim to keep us in a similar system to the Single Market and the Customs Union. ‘Close alignment’ means de facto the Single Market, it would make the UK a rule taker like Norway, divested of even the limited influence we current have.

90% of global trade growth is expected to come from outside the EU but we would be tying ourselves to a system that seeks to protect the current, declining status quo rather than engaging with the challenge of the next generation.

Conformity with EU rules will also prevent us from making meaningful trade deals with other nations where we could secure reduction of the non-tariff barriers and regulatory distortions which are often worse than the tariffs. They impose such high regulatory burdens on importers that no-one bothers and they are not there for either safety or scientific reasons but for protectionist ones. No sensible nation would negotiate with the UK for a marginal gain when we would merely be a vassal of the EU.


The GOLD mission to learn more about the Earth’s ionosphere ran into comms problems after launch yesterday and may take longer than expected to reach its required orbit height. NASA’s own publicity says: “Just like an infrared camera allows you to see how temperatures change with different colors, GOLD images ultraviolet light to provide a map of the Earth that reveals how temperature and atmospheric composition change by location”.

NASA has reported that despite a glitch within minutes of its GOLD mission launch, the satellite is communicating with control systems, reports the Indian Express.

The aim of the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, mission is to study the dynamic region where space and Earth’s uppermost atmosphere meet.


Jupiter-sized exoplanet [Wikipedia]

It seems the planetary structure of our solar system is an oddity compared to most of the exoplanetary systems so far discovered. On the other hand it’s easier to find planets close to their stars than those a long way away, so what is known so far might not be giving us the whole picture.

An international research team led by Université de Montréal astrophysicist Lauren Weiss has discovered that exoplanets orbiting the same star tend to have similar sizes and a regular orbital spacing, says

This pattern, revealed by new W. M. Keck Observatory observations of planetary systems discovered by the Kepler Telescope, could suggest that most planetary systems have a different formation history than the solar system.

Thanks in large part to the NASA Kepler Telescope, launched in 2009, many thousands of exoplanets are now known. This large sample allows researchers to not only study individual systems, but also to draw conclusions on planetary systems in general.


turbine-backupSigns of a return to sanity down under. The Australian government has opted for reliability over renewables in the power sector.

In the wake of the “System Black” power failure that knocked out South Australia for up to two days in late 2016, the country’s government has dumped the existing clean energy-based policy in favour of a radically different one.

In October 2017 the Energy Security Board (ESB) provided the COAG Energy Council with advice on changes to the National Electricity Market (NEM) and legislative framework. The proposed national energy guarantee (NEG) aims to support the provision of reliable, secure and affordable electricity with a focus on ensuring:

  • the reliability of the system is maintained
  • electricity sector emissions reductions needed to meet Australia’s international commitments are achieved
  • the above objectives are met at the lowest overall costs.

The NEG is a way to encourage new investment in clean and low emissions technologies while allowing the electricity system to continue to operate reliably.


Credit: NASA

Researchers say: ‘Study of wave characteristics reveals complex interconnections between the Sun, Moon, and Earth’s neutral atmosphere and ionosphere.’

The waves in the upper atmosphere are similar to the V-shaped waves left behind by a ship moving through water, reports The IB Times.

The 21 August total solar eclipse that overshadowed the entire stretch from Oregon to South Carolina, not only offered some mind-boggling views, but also left a weird effect on Earth’s atmosphere.

The event created heat-energy ripples or “bow waves”, something akin to the V-shaped waves left behind by a ship moving through water, in Earth’s upper atmosphere, Gizmodo reports.


Sun at solar system barycentre 1990 [via Arnholm’s solar simulator]

H/T Michele Casati

N.S.Sidorenkov, Ian Wilson

ABSTRACT. The influence of solar retrograde motion on secular minima of solar activity, volcanic eruptions, climate changes, and other terrestrial processes is investigated. Most collected data suggest that secular minima of solar activity, powerful volcanic eruptions, significant climate changes, and catastrophic earthquakes occur around events of solar retrograde motion.

Keywords: barycentric motion of the sun; secular minima of solar activity, volcanic eruptions, climate changes; the historical process of humankind.


Uranus [image credit: NASA]

One of the two processes involved is “due to high-speed particles from outside the solar system, known as galactic cosmic rays, bombarding the atmosphere and influencing the formation of clouds”, reports If so, it looks like further evidence for the Svensmark hypothesis.

Changes in solar activity influence the colour and formation of clouds around the planet, researchers at Oxford and Reading universities found.

The icy planet is second furthest from the sun in the solar system and takes 84 Earth years to complete a full orbit – one Uranian year.

The researchers found that, once the planet’s long and strange seasons are taken into account, it appears brighter and dimmer over a cycle of 11 years. This is the regular cycle of solar activity which also affects sun spots.


Jupiter [image credit: NASA]

The caption to the explanatory video says: ‘When scientists look at Jupiter’s upper atmosphere in infrared light, they see the region above the equator heating and cooling over a roughly four-year cycle’.

Speeding through the atmosphere high above Jupiter’s equator is an east-west jet stream that reverses course on a schedule almost as predictable as a Tokyo train’s, says Now, a NASA-led team has identified which type of wave forces this jet to change direction.

Similar equatorial jet streams have been identified on Saturn and on Earth, where a rare disruption of the usual wind pattern complicated weather forecasts in early 2016.

The new study combines modeling of Jupiter’s atmosphere with detailed observations made over the course of five years from NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility, or IRTF, in Hawai’i. The findings could help scientists better understand the dynamic atmosphere of Jupiter and other planets, including those beyond our solar system.



Illustration of cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere. A proton with energy of 100 GeV interact at the top of the atmosphere and produces a cascade of secondary particles who ionize molecules when traveling through the air. One 100 GeV proton hits every m2 at the top of the atmosphere every second.

H/T GWPF: Researchers have claimed a breakthrough in understanding how cosmic rays from supernovas react with the sun to form clouds, which impact the climate on Earth.

The findings have been described as the “missing link” to help resolve a decades long controversy that has big implications for climate science.

Lead author, Henrik Svensmark, from The Technical University of Denmark has long held that climate models had greatly underestimated the impact of solar activity.

He says the new research identified the feedback mechanism through which the sun’s impact on climate was varied.

Professor Svensmark’s theories on solar impact have caused a great deal of controversy within the climate science community and the latest findings are sure to provoke new outrage.


The Paris Climate Treaty, the UK Climate Change Act, the US CO2 endangerment finding. These misconceived policies decided on by scientifically ignorant and socially cocooned politicians KILL people. Far more people die of cold and cold related illnesses than suffer from heat-stroke. As the effects of these policies bite harder on personal finances, we need to look after those vulnerable people in our communities who cannot afford to heat their homes, or don’t even have a home to heat.


Jupiter’s cloud bands [image credit: NASA]

The report says: ‘On Earth, this relationship between distant events in a planet’s climate system is known as teleconnection.’ The surprise was to find evidence of it on both of the solar system’s two biggest planets.

Immense northern storms on Saturn can disturb atmospheric patterns at the planet’s equator, finds the international Cassini mission in a study led by Dr Leigh Fletcher from the University of Leicester.

This effect is also seen in Earth’s atmosphere, suggesting the two planets are more alike than previously thought, reports

Despite their considerable differences, the atmospheres of Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn all display a remarkably similar phenomenon in their equatorial regions: vertical, cyclical, downwards-moving patterns of alternating temperatures and wind systems that repeat over a period of multiple years.

These patterns—known as the Quasi-Periodic Oscillation (QPO) on Saturn and the Quasi-Quadrennial Oscillation (QQO) on Jupiter, due to their similarities to Earth’s so-called Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO)—appear to be a defining characteristic of the middle layers of a planetary atmosphere.