Posts Tagged ‘planetary’

Saturn’s aurora

The report says: ‘Density decreases with altitude, and the rate of decrease depends on temperature.’ Or is it the other way round, i.e. density influences temperature?

The upper layers in the atmospheres of gas giants—Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune—are hot, just like Earth’s, says

But unlike Earth, the Sun is too far from these outer planets to account for the high temperatures. Their heat source has been one of the great mysteries of planetary science.

New analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft finds a viable explanation for what’s keeping the upper layers of Saturn, and possibly the other gas giants, so hot: auroras at the planet’s north and south poles.


Greenland ice sheet (east coast) [image credit: Hannes Grobe @ Wikipedia]

Of course the other question about the start of an ice age still remains.

New University of Melbourne research has revealed that ice ages over the last million years ended when the tilt angle of the Earth’s axis was approaching higher values, reports

During these times, longer and stronger summers melted the large Northern Hemisphere ice sheets, propelling the Earth’s climate into a warm ‘interglacial’ state, like the one we’ve experienced over the last 11,000 years.

The study by Ph.D. candidate, Petra Bajo, and colleagues also showed that summer energy levels at the time these ‘ice-age terminations’ were triggered controlled how long it took for the ice sheets to collapse, with higher energy levels producing fast collapse.

Researchers are still trying to understand how often these periods happen and how soon we can expect another one.


Wikipedia says:

Dansgaard–Oeschger events (often abbreviated D–O events) are rapid climate fluctuations that occurred 25 times during the last glacial period. Some scientists say that the events occur quasi-periodically with a recurrence time being a multiple of 1,470 years, but this is debated. —

The 25 occurrences of 1470 years are represented in this synodic chart posted in the comments of our 2018 blog post:
Possible origin of Dansgaard-Oeschger abrupt climate events.

Re. the ‘debate’, let’s take a line from this paper:
On the 1470-year pacing of Dansgaard-Oeschger warm events
Michael Schulz
First published: 01 May 2002
Citations: 99
‘a fundamental pacing period of ~1470 years seems to control the timing of the onset of the Dansgaard-Oeschger events.’

Another study: Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock
Stefan Rahmstorf
First published: 21 May 2003

An analysis of the GISP2 ice core record from Greenland reveals that abrupt climate events appear to be paced by a 1,470-year cycle with a period that is probably stable to within a few percent; with 95% confidence the period is maintained to better than 12% over at least 23 cycles. This highly precise clock points to an origin outside the Earth system; oscillatory modes within the Earth system can be expected to be far more irregular in period.

[bold added]

However, researchers often admit defeat when looking for a viable mechanism to explain its regularity, or just say there isn’t one to date.

Kepler’s trigon – the orientation of consecutive Jupiter-Saturn synodic periods, showing the repeating triangular shape (trigon).

Returning to the synodics chart, a relevant number doesn’t appear in it. The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of 19.865~ years is an important period in the solar system, and it returns to almost the same position after every three occurrences, as Johannes Kepler noted with his ‘trigon’, centuries ago.

We can work out the rate of movement per conjunction in degrees:
360 – ((360 / S) * J-S) = 117.147 degrees
(360 / 117.147) * J-S = 61.046482y (‘JS-360’)
[Data: ]

Then, from the chart:
1470*25 / ‘JS-360’ = 602.00029
Check: (602*360) / 117.147 = 1849.983 (1850 J-S, see chart)
Since ‘JS-360’ is almost exactly a whole number (602), the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction should be in its original position at the end of the 25 D-O cycles.

Adding 602 to the orbits of each planet = multiples of 25:
223(N) + 602 = 825 (25*33) = 1850-1025(S-N)
[33 = 74-41]
1248(S) + 602 = 1850 (25*74)
3098(J) + 602 = 3700 (25*74*2)

Another way to get multiples of 25:
Add 2 to each orbit number (see chart), and subtract 2 from 602.

More on the 602 number:
602 = 14*43
14*61.046482y = 854.651y
43 J-S = 854.197y
These two results are only about half a year apart, and we find:
43*43 = 1849 J-S
Add 1 = 1850 J-S completing the 25 D-O cycle.

43*61.046482y = 2625 years (2624.9987)
1470:2625 = 14:25 ratio
1470*25 = 2625*14 (hence 602 of ‘JS-360’ = 14*43)

Obliquity note:
28 D-O = 41160 years, a fair match to the expected 41 kyr period.
One paper refers to a fit between D-O and obliquity.
Others support the notion of a link — possibly a topic for another post.
(28*25*1470 = 1,029,000 years)

Example of a 1470 year period from Arnholm’s solar simulator — click on image to enlarge:

Showing Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and Earth.
* * *
Another one — Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn

New laser technology delves into Earth’s history.
– – –
Earth turned faster at the end of the time of the dinosaurs than it does today, reports, rotating 372 times a year compared to the current 365, according to a new study of fossil mollusk shells from the late Cretaceous.

This means a day lasted only 23 and a half hours, according to the new study in AGU’s journal Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology.

The ancient mollusk, from an extinct and wildly diverse group known as rudist clams, grew fast, laying down daily growth rings. The new study used lasers to sample minute slices of shell and count the growth rings more accurately than human researchers with microscopes.


Mars from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope

Tales of the unexpected on Mars: ‘Day-night fluctuations and things that pulse in the dark’, and other mysteries. What’s unique to Mars?

New data gleaned from the magnetic sensor aboard NASA’s InSight spacecraft is offering an unprecedented close-up of magnetic fields on Mars, says

“One of the big unknowns from previous satellite missions was what the magnetization looked like over small areas,” said lead author Catherine Johnson, a professor at the University of British Columbia and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.

“By placing the first magnetic sensor at the surface, we have gained valuable new clues about the interior structure and upper atmosphere of Mars that will help us understand how it – and other planets like it – formed.”


There’s been a data update for the three planet system of star YZ Ceti, which featured in our 2018 post: Why Phi? – resonant exoplanets of star YZ Ceti. According to NASA the third planet YZ Ceti d is a ‘super Earth’, about 1.14 times the mass of our planet.

The paper:
‘The CARMENES search for exoplanets around M dwarfs.
Characterization of the nearby ultra-compact multiplanetary system YZ Ceti’
(Submitted on 5 Feb 2020)

With an additional 229 radial velocity measurements obtained since the discovery publication, we reanalyze the YZ Ceti system and resolve the alias issues.


Mount Etna, Sicily

The article says: ‘Every 6.4 years, the axes line up and the wobble fades for a short time.’ This looks a lot like 5.4 Chandler wobbles (CW), so you would have 6.4 years minus 5.4 CW = 1 cycle, i.e. 32:27 ratio = 5 (32-27) cycles.
Much more analysis of this time period and related matters in this 2013 Talkshop post:
Ian Wilson: Solar System Timings Evolved Lunar Orbital Elements Linked to Earth’s Chandler Wobble

New research suggests forces pulling on Earth’s surface as the planet spins may trigger earthquakes and eruptions at volcanoes, reports

Seismic activity and bursts of magma near Italy’s Mount Etna increased when Earth’s rotational axis was furthest from its geographic axis, according to a new study comparing changes in Earth’s rotation to activity at the well-known Italian volcano.


A researcher said of one of the new finds: “It is hard to see how the planet got there!”
– – –
Six ‘very hot’ rocky exoplanets orbiting stars in the local region of the Milky Way hold the key to understanding more about how the Earth was formed, astronomers claim.

Researchers from the Open University have been studying planets discovered by the European Space Observatory’s planet-hunting telescope in Chile.

They are orbiting stars between 160 and 440 light years from Earth and all have hot surfaces with temperatures of around 2,012F to 3,272F.

The new findings could shed light on the geology of Earth and other rocky planets in the Solar System including Mercury, Venus and Mars, researchers say.

Full Daily Mail report here.

Magnetic North on the move [credit: ESA]

Few will notice anything, but some airport runways will have to change their markings.

The team of researchers that maintain the World Magnetic Model (WMM) has updated it and released it a year ahead of schedule due to the speed with which the pole is moving, reports

The newly updated model shows the magnetic north pole moving away from Canada and toward Siberia.

The magnetic north pole is the point on the Earth that compasses designate as true north. It is the result of geological processes deep within the planet—molten iron flow creates a magnetic field with poles near the geographic North and South Poles.


Six cyclones form a hexagonal pattern around a central cyclone at Jupiter’s south pole. Generated image – credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

Suddenly Saturn’s hexagon isn’t unique in the solar system any more.

Jupiter’s south pole has a new cyclone, reports

The discovery of the massive Jovian tempest occurred on Nov. 3, 2019, during the most recent data-gathering flyby of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

It was the 22nd flyby during which the solar-powered spacecraft collected science data on the gas giant, soaring only 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) above its cloud tops.

The flyby also marked a victory for the mission team, whose innovative measures kept the solar-powered spacecraft clear of what could have been a mission-ending eclipse.


Jupiter-Saturn-Earth orbits chart

This was just about to go live when a new idea involving the Sun cropped up, now added to the original. The source data is from NASA JPL as usual.

From our 2015 de Vries post we saw that the 2503 year period, which the numbers were based on, consisted of 85 Saturn and 211 Jupiter orbits [see chart on the right].

Taking Saturn’s orbit period, and using JPL’s planetary data we find:
10755.7 days * 85 = 914234.5 days

The lunar year is 13 lunar orbits of Earth:
27.321582 days * 13 = 355.18056 days

914234.5 / 355.18056 = 2573.9992 (2574) = 13 * 198 lunar years

Number of beats of Saturn and the lunar year = 2574 – 85 = 2489 in 2503 years.
2503 – 2489 = 14
Number of Jose cycles in 2503 years = 14 (= 126 Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions, i.e. 9 J-S * 14).

Therefore the difference per Jose cycle between ‘Saturn-lunar year’ beats and Earth years is exactly one.


Unusual goings-on seen in the skies over New Zealand.

Dec. 4, 2019: An atmospheric wave nearly half as wide as Earth itself is supercharging noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the southern hemisphere. NASA’s AIM spacecraft detected the phenomenon in this series of south polar images spanning Nov. 27th through Dec. 2nd:


“This is a clear sign of planetary wave activity,” says AIM principal investigator James Russell of Hampton University, which manages the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere mission for NASA.

Planetary waves are enormous ripples of temperature and pressure that form in Earth’s atmosphere in response to Coriolis forces. In this case, a 5-day planetary wave is boosting noctilucent clouds over Antarctica and causing them to spin outward to latitudes where NLCs are rarely seen.

On Dec. 1st, Mirko Harnisch saw the clouds from Dunedin, New Zealand. “I was enjoying the late-evening sky over the Southern Ocean just after 11 pm local time when these wispy blue-ish clouds appeared,”…

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‘Long-term’ here means really long-term. The 21k year precession period quoted looks like that of the perihelion.

In the past million years, the high-altitude winds of the southern westerly wind belt, which spans nearly half the globe, didn’t behave as uniformly over the Southern Pacific as previously assumed.

Instead, they varied cyclically over periods of ca. 21,000 years, reports ScienceDaily.

A new study has now confirmed close ties between the climate of the mid and high latitudes and that of the tropics in the South Pacific, which has consequences for the carbon budget of the Pacific Southern Ocean and the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.


The rotation of Venus

Posted: October 25, 2019 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, research, Uncertainty
Tags: ,


Not mentioned in the report (or anywhere else we know of) is that 19 Venus rotations very closely match the period of 13 lunar tropical years of 13 orbits/rotations each: (169 * 27.321582 days) / 19 = 243.01827 days. This matches the 1991 Magellan observation of the Venusian rotation period 243.0185 days and is very close to the current estimate, which is that it averages 243.0212 +- .00006 days but seems to have a small degree of variability, for reasons yet to be confirmed.

Venus is covered in a thick layer of clouds, one reason that it appears so bright in the sky, says

Ancient astronomers had a good idea of what (since Copernicus) we know as its orbital period; the modern measurement is that Venus takes 224.65 days to complete one revolution around the Sun, a Venusian year.

Because of the clouds, however, it has been difficult to measure the length of the Venusian day since the nominal method of watching a visible surface feature rotate around 360 degrees is not possible.



As usual the ‘runaway greenhouse effect’ theory rears its ugly head, and the event that supposedly led to it ‘forced massive amounts of CO² into the atmosphere’. But the huge atmospheric pressure of Venus (> 90 times that of Earth’s surface), combined with its being nearer to the Sun than Earth, can adequately explain the observed temperatures.

A new study on the volcanic highlands of Venus casts doubt on whether the planet ever had oceans, reports Universe Today.
– – –
Venus is often referred to as “Earth’s sister planet“, owing to the number of similarities between them.

Like Earth, Venus is a terrestrial (aka. rocky) planet and it resides with our Sun’s Circumstellar Habitable Zone (CHZ). And for some time, scientists have theorized that billions of years ago, Venus had oceans on its surface and was habitable – aka. not the hot and hellish place it is today.

However, after examining radar data on the Ovda Fluctus lava flow, a team of scientists at the Lunar and Planetary Institute concluded that the highlands on Venus are likely to be composed of basaltic lava rock instead of granite.

This effectively punches a hole in the main argument for Venus having oceans in the past, which is that the Ovda Regio highlands plateau formed in the presence of water.



The article here notes that: ‘The atmosphere of Venus – which is mostly carbon dioxide – is extremely dense and hot; atmospheric pressure on Venus’ surface is some 90 times that of Earth.’ An extremely dense atmosphere with enormous atmospheric pressure is always going to be hot, regardless of its composition. Just a thought, but maybe it needs a lot of convection (wind) to offset the heat.

Why does Venus’ upper atmosphere circle the planet in just 4 Earth-days, while the planet itself takes 243 Earth-days to spin once?

Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft probed the mysterious “super-rotation” of Venus’ clouds, reports

The spacecraft – aka the Venus Climate Orbiter – got off a rocky start but has been sending back useful data from Venus for several years now.


Credit: JS Pailly

What a time to be alive says ScienceAlert.
– – –
For the first time in centuries, compasses in Greenwich are about to point directly at true north: an epic coincidence of time and magnetism that hasn’t taken place for some 360 years.

This serendipitous occurrence – which is set to occur within the next fortnight – serves as a startling reminder of how Earth’s magnetic north pole is constantly wandering, unlike the fixed ‘true north’ of Earth’s geographic north pole.

The angular difference between those two different points is called magnetic declination, and while the gap might not be something ordinary people spend a great deal of time thinking about, it’s a disparity that can last for centuries at a time.

For hundreds of years now in the UK, due to Earth’s shifting magnetic north pole, declination has been negative, meaning compass needles have been pointing west of true north.

But nothing lasts forever.


Image credit:

In 2015 this post discussed long-term lunar precession from an apsidal, or anomalistic, standpoint.

We saw that all the numbers related to an exact number (339) of Metonic cycles (19 tropical years each, as discussed below).

Here we show the equivalent from a nodal, or draconic, standpoint.

Again, all the numbers relate to an exact number (337 this time) of Metonic cycles.


Natural gas flare {credit: Wikipedia]

As we already knew from elsewhere in the solar system, fossils are not essential for the production of methane aka natural gas. Only two ingredients are needed, one being water, as explained below.

New research from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) published Aug. 19, 2019, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science provides evidence of the formation and abundance of abiotic methane—methane formed by chemical reactions that don’t involve organic matter—on Earth and shows how the gases could have a similar origin on other planets and moons, even those no longer home to liquid water.

Researchers had long noticed methane released from deep-sea vents, says But while the gas is plentiful in the atmosphere where it’s produced by living things, the source of methane at the seafloor was a mystery.


More electromagnetic goings-on near Earth’s outer fringes.

August 9, 2019: Astronauts are surrounded by danger: hard vacuum, solar flares, cosmic rays. Researchers from UCLA have just added a new item to the list. Earth itself.

“A natural particle accelerator only 40,000 miles above Earth’s surface is producing ‘killer electrons’ moving close to the speed of light,” says Terry Liu, a newly-minted PhD who studied the phenomenon as part of his thesis with UCLA Prof. Vassilis Angelopoulos.

This means that astronauts leaving Earth for Mars could be peppered by radiation coming at them from behind–from the direction of their own home planet.


NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft ran across the particles in 2008 not far from the place where the solar wind slams into Earth’s magnetic field. Researchers have long known that shock waves at that location could accelerate particles to high energies–but not this high. The particles coming out of the Earth-solar wind interface have energies up to 100,000…

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