Posts Tagged ‘planetary’

Layers of Earth’s atmosphere


Some fairly advanced theorising here, but the possibilities look interesting. For example, could ‘resonant trapping’ exist?

Resonating oscillations of a planet’s atmosphere caused by gravitational tides and heating from its star could prevent a planet’s rotation from steadily slowing over time, according to new research by Caleb Scharf, who is the Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University.

His findings suggest that the effect is enhanced for a planet with an atmosphere that has been oxygenated by life, and the resulting ‘atmospheric tides’ could even act as a biosignature, reports Phys.org.

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Even today, more than eighty percent of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored. How many more hidden volcanoes may remain to be discovered?

The find offers a glimpse into a previously unknown marine ecosystem — and spotlights just how little we know about the seafloor, says Euronews.

While mapping the seafloor some 250 miles off the coast of the Australian island of Tasmania, scientists recently discovered what’s being called a “volcanic lost world” deep underwater.

The chain of volcanic seamounts — huge undersea mountains that loom as tall as 9,800 feet, or more than six times taller than the Empire State Building — offer a glimpse into a previously unknown ocean ecosystem.

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In the solar system and the universe too, ‘weird’ may well be another way of saying ‘we haven’t figured it out yet’.

Planet Pailly

When I did my yearlong Mission to the Solar System series back in 2015, the planet Neptune stood out as having the weirdest and wackiest magnetic field.  Here’s a totally legit photograph from 1989 taken by the Voyager 2 space probe.  As you can see, Neptune is really confused about how magnetic fields are supposed to work.

But since 2015, science has learned more about the other three gas giants in our Solar System.  Neptune’s magnetic field is still really weird, but it’s no longer clear that it is the definitive weirdest.

  • Jupiter: Based on data from the Juno mission, it looks like Jupiter has three poles instead of two.  There’s a north pole, right about where you’d expect it to be.  Then the magnetic field lines emanating from the north pole connect to two separate south poles.  The first south pole is about where you’d expect a south pole…

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More twins than couple, as this 2008 blog post explains. It takes them 25-30 years to orbit each other and 290 years for the binary system to orbit the Sun.
QW322

astroengine.com

2001 QW322 is a highly split Kuiper Belt pair, orbiting eachother at a distance of 125,000 km

The highly-split Kuiper Belt pair 2001 QW322 (CFEPS)

The Kuiper Belt is an eerie, mysterious and cold region of the Solar System. In it, there are billions of small pieces of rocks with lots of fancy names. As a general designation, all objects in the Kuiper belt are called “Kuiper-belt objects” (KBO’s for short). As the Kuiper belt is located in a region just beyond Neptune, they may also be known as trans-Neptunian objects (TNO’s). Inside the Kuiper belt, we have Pluto-like objects known as “Plutoids”, classical KBO’s called “Cubewanos” (the largest being the recently discovered Makemake) and a whole host of other objects such as icy objects soon to become the next generation of periodic comets.

We are only scraping the surface, finding only a small portion of KBOs. We know of a thousand, but astronomers believe there may…

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Coriolis Effect [credit: keywordhungry.com]


There are numerous attempts to explain the Coriolis effect on the internet, with varying success in terms of how confused the reader may be afterwards. This report may or may not clear things up, but best expect the latter.

The earth’s rotation causes the Coriolis effect, which deflects massive air and water flows toward the right in the Northern Hemisphere and toward the left in the Southern Hemisphere.

This phenomenon greatly impacts global wind patterns and ocean currents, and is only significant for large-scale and long-duration geophysical phenomena such as hurricanes.

The magnitude of the Coriolis effect, relative to the magnitude of inertial forces, is expressed by the Rossby number. For over 100 years, scientists have believed that the higher this number, the less likely Coriolis effect influences oceanic or atmospheric events, says Phys.org.

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A new tweak to tidal theory is proposed. The research team hopes that ‘understanding continental configurations and tidal strengths will impact the development of climate models’.

Daily tides are driven primarily by Earth’s rotation and the gravitational force of the moon on oceans, says Earth magazine.

However, in a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers suggest that tidal magnitudes are also influenced, on longer timescales, by the size and shape of the ocean basins, and are therefore driven by plate tectonics.

Plate tectonics gives rise to the formation of supercontinents — massive aggregations of continental lithosphere — which form and break apart in cycles that last about 400 million to 500 million years. With the breakup of the last supercontinent, Pangea, about 180 million years ago, and the projected formation of a new supercontinent, known as Aurica, in about 200 million years, Earth is currently in the middle of a supercontinent cycle.

Because the size and shape of ocean basins impact ocean circulation and tides, researchers led by Mattias Green, a physical oceanographer at Bangor University in England, hypothesized that tides may be linked to the supercontinent cycle in a so-called supertidal cycle.

Current tides, particularly those in the North Atlantic, are very large, Green’s team noted because of tidal resonance, which occurs when ocean basins and continental shelves reinforce and amplify the natural oscillation of tides as they sweep back and forth across oceans. “So the tides are larger at present because the continents are configured the way they are.”

To model Earth’s future oceanic tides, the researchers used predictions of continental configurations for the next 250 million years, through when Aurica is predicted to form. Ocean basin size was the main factor considered in the modeling, but the team also accounted for the moon’s gravitational pull on the oceans, Earth’s axial tilt, and simplified ocean bathymetries for future plate tectonic reconstructions.

Simplification of these fine details does affect the team’s modeling, notes David Waltham, a mathematical geologist at the Royal Holloway University of London, who was not involved in the study. But the simplifications used likely do not change the overall results, he adds.

Green and his colleagues reported that global tides are likely to increase over the next 50 million years “due to an enhanced tide in the North Atlantic and Pacific at 25 million years, followed by a very large Pacific tide at 50 million years.”

Continued here.

Saturn’s north polar vortex and hexagon along with its expansive rings. The hexagon is wider than two Earths [image credit: NASA]


Another case of observing something that wasn’t thought possible. As the report notes: ‘The presence of a hexagon way up in Saturn’s northern stratosphere, hundreds of kilometres above the clouds, suggests that there is much more to learn about the dynamics at play in the gas giant’s atmosphere.’

The long-lived international Cassini mission has revealed a surprising feature emerging at Saturn’s northern pole as it nears summertime: a warming, high-altitude vortex with a hexagonal shape, akin to the famous hexagon seen deeper down in Saturn’s clouds.

This suggests that the lower-altitude hexagon may influence what happens up above, and that it could be a towering structure spanning hundreds of kilometres in height, reports Phys.org.

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Credit: NASA


Temporary weather effects and more. For more background, there are several extra links in the original ScienceNews article.

A year after the total solar eclipse of 2017, scientists are still pondering the mysteries of the sun.

It’s been a year since the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, captured millions of imaginations as the moon briefly blotted out the sun and cast a shadow that crisscrossed the United States from Oregon to South Carolina.

“It was an epic event by all measures,” NASA astrophysicist Madhulika Guhathakurta told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans in December. One survey reports that 88 percent of adults in the United States — some 216 million people — viewed the eclipse either directly or electronically.

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Ring of Fire earthquake zone [image credit: BBC]


The understanding of the processes may be lacking, but the evidence is there according to researchers.

New research shows that a big earthquake can not only cause other quakes, but large ones, and on the opposite side of the Earth, reports ScienceDaily.

The findings, published today in Scientific Reports, are an important step toward improved short-term earthquake forecasting and risk assessment.

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Very Large Array, New Mexico [image credit: NASA]


This was ‘the first radio detection and the first measurement of the magnetic field of a possible planetary mass object beyond our Solar System.’ It’s even bigger than Jupiter. Plenty of puzzles for scientists to investigate.

Astronomers have used the VLA to detect a possible planetary-mass object with a surprisingly powerful magnetic field some 20 light-years from Earth.

It can help scientists better understand magnetic processes on stars and planets, says the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array
(VLA) have made the first radio-telescope detection of a planetary-mass object beyond our Solar System. The object, about a dozen times more massive than Jupiter, is a surprisingly strong magnetic powerhouse and a “rogue,” traveling through space unaccompanied by any parent star.

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Venus


The apparent length of day on Venus (116.75 days) is nothing like its rotation time (~243 days), due to its retrograde spin. It can be stated as the time in which the sum of the number of Venus orbits (~0.52) and spins (~0.48) in the period equals 1.

As ScienceNewsforStudents reports, the thick atmosphere on Venus can change by a few minutes every day how long it takes the planet to rotate.

Time gets tricky on Venus. The planet has extremely thick air, which flows much more rapidly than the rate at which the solid planet spins.

As that thick atmosphere pushes against the planet’s mountains, it can change how quickly Venus spins, scientists now report.

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Vertical line shows planetary conjunction with the Sun [credit: Wikipedia]


Numerous studies have found evidence of an apparently regular and significant climate event every 1,470 years (on average), which seems to show up most clearly in glacial periods. They speak of a ‘robust 1,470-year response time’, ‘a precise clock’, ‘abrupt climate change’ and so forth.

However they also say things like: ‘The origin of this regular pacing…remains a mystery.’

A couple of example studies here:
Possible solar origin of the 1,470-year glacial climate cycle demonstrated in a coupled model (2005)

Timing of abrupt climate change: A precise clock (2003)
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Now we can relate this to the half period of the Jupiter-Saturn (J-S) conjunction cycle, i.e. one inferior or superior conjunction, as explained at Wikipedia.

The average J-S half-period is 9.932518 years.
The nearest harmonic to that period in Earth years is 10.
1470 = 148 * J-S/2
1470 = 147 * 10y
148 – 147 = 1 Dansgaard-Oeschger cycle

We find also that Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune conjunctions are such that:
148 * J-S/2 = 74 J-S = 41 S-N = 115 J-N = 1,470 years. [74 + 41 = 115]

Therefore 3 of the 4 major planets have a 1,470 year conjunction cycle.
(Planetary data from JPL @ NASA here)

So that’s the concept.
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The graphics below are from Carsten Arnholm’s Solar Simulator software tool.
The interval between left and right sides is 1,470 years (May 501 – May 1971).

Each one shows a Jupiter, Neptune and Earth syzygy with Saturn opposite.
Note the similarity of the positions (red lines cross at the solar system barycentre).

Credit: compoundchem.com [click to enlarge]


This is on similar lines to the ongoing studies of Nikolov & Zeller, featured here at the Talkshop on several occasions. The ‘standard’ tropopause pressure of ~0.1 bar is an interesting factor.

By looking at the temperature of every planet with sufficient atmospheres, we see temps rise along with atmospheric pressure, and not from a trace gas, says Alan Siddons at ClimateChangeDispatch.

Early in the 19th century, scientists began to speculate that the Earth, surrounded by the frigid vacuum of space, was habitable because its atmosphere contained special molecules like CO₂ and water vapor, molecules that can absorb heat rays emanating from the Earth and thereby trap its heat.

That the Earth was warmer than one might expect was apparently confirmed when Kirchhoff’s blackbody concept was adopted.

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Arizona, USA


Amazing what can be gleaned from a 1,700 feet long rock core.
H/T Ian Wilson

Every 405,000 years, gravitational tugs from Jupiter and Venus slightly elongate Earth’s orbit, an amazingly consistent pattern that has influenced our planet’s climate for at least 215 million years and allows scientists to more precisely date geological events like the spread of dinosaurs, according to a Rutgers-led study.

The findings are published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports ScienceDaily.

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Screenshot from NASA video


There’s the usual speculative talk of exotic materials, mysterious dynamos and so forth, but the probe is delivering plenty of data for scientists to analyse and ponder over.

When NASA’s Juno spacecraft recently flew over the poles of Jupiter, researchers were astonished, as if they had never seen a giant planet before, says Phys.org.

And in a sense they hadn’t.

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A montage of Uranus’ large moons and one smaller moon: from left to right Puck, Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon. Size proportions are correct. [image credit: Vzb83 @ Wikipedia (from originals taken by NASA’s Voyager 2)]


The five major moons of Uranus in ascending distance from the planet are:
Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon

Of these, the first three exhibit a synodic resonance similar to that of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, as we showed here:
Why Phi? – the resonance of Jupiter’s Galilean moons

Quoting from that post:
The only exact ratio is between the synodic periods which is 3:2:1.
It isn’t necessary to have an exact 4:2:1 orbit ratio in order to get a 3:2:1 synodic ratio.

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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.

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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 Phys.org.

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.

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Giant planets of the solar system [image credit: universetoday.com]


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.

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Image credit: strangesounds.org


But amplitude variations in the hum did not correlate with the seasons as once thought.

Scientists finally capture hum coming from the centre of the Earth, reports GeologyIn.

Although we like to think we know everything – and technology has advanced so much we practically have the answer to everything we don’t know at our fingertips – there are still plenty of mysteries left to solve.

For the past few decades, something has been becoming increasingly clear: Earth constantly hums, even though we can’t hear it.

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