Posts Tagged ‘solar – planetary theory’

Variation in solar activity during a recent sunspot cycle [credit: Wikipedia]

Variation in solar activity during a recent sunspot cycle [credit: Wikipedia]

Here we are told that ‘Researchers…are putting forward a new theory’ which may be amusing to Talkshop regulars and others who have been discussing and investigating such matters for years, but – better late than never for the rest of the science world!

The Sun’s activity is determined by the Sun’s magnetic field. Two combined effects are responsible for the latter: The omega and the alpha effect. Exactly where and how the alpha effect originates is currently unknown.

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) are putting forward a new theory for this in the journal Solar Physics. Their calculations suggest that tidal forces from Venus, the Earth and Jupiter can directly influence the Sun’s activity.

Many questions regarding the Sun’s magnetic field are still unanswered. “As with the Earth, we are dealing with a dynamo. Through self-excitation, a magnetic field is created from virtually nothing, whereby the complex movement of the conductive plasma serves as an energy source,” says the physicist Dr. Frank Stefani from HZDR.

The Sun’s so-called alpha-omega dynamo is subject to a regular cycle. Approximately every eleven years the polarity of the Sun’s magnetic field is reversed, with solar activity peaking with the same frequency.

This manifests itself in an increase in sunspots — dark patches on the Sun’s surface which originate from strongly concentrated magnetic fields. “Interestingly, every 11.07 years, the Sun and the planets Venus, the Earth and Jupiter are aligned. We asked ourselves: Is it a coincidence that the solar cycle corresponds with the cycle of the conjunction or the opposition of the three planets?” ponders Stefani.

Although this question is by no means new, up to now scientists could not identify a plausible physical mechanism for how the very weak tidal effects of Venus, the Earth and Jupiter could influence the Sun’s dynamo.
Talkshop comment: Unless they came across some of Ian Wilson’s research perhaps?

Strengthening through resonance
“If you only just give a swing small pushes, it will swing higher with time,” as Frank Stefani explains the principle of resonance. He and his team discovered in recent calculations that the alpha effect is prone to oscillations under certain conditions. “The impulse for this alpha-oscillation requires almost no energy. The planetary tides could act as sufficient pace setters for this.”

The so-called Tayler instability plays a crucial role for the resonance of the Sun’s dynamo. It always arises when a strong enough current flows through a conductive liquid or a plasma. Above a certain strength, the interaction of the current with its own magnetic field generates a flow — in the case of the colossal Sun, a turbulent one.

It is generally understood that the solar dynamo relies on the interaction of two induction mechanisms. Largely undisputed is the omega effect, which originates in the tachocline. This is the name of a narrow band between the Sun’s inner radiative zone and the outer areas in which convection takes place, where heat is transported using the movement of the hot plasma. In the tachocline, various, differentially rotating areas converge. This differential rotation generates the so-called toroidal magnetic field in the form of two “life belts” situated north and south of the solar equator.

[Talkshop note: see link below for further details]

Full report: Are planets setting the sun’s pace? — ScienceDaily

Carrington Rotations = CarRots [credit:]

Carrington Rotations = CarRots [credit:]

Tallbloke recently acquired a book by Hartmut Warm called ‘Signature of the Celestial Spheres: Discovering Order in the Solar System’ which offers this gem:
588 solar Carrington rotations (CarRots) = 587 lunar sidereal months
We’ll call this the HW cycle, about 43.91 years.

‘Richard Christopher Carrington determined the solar rotation rate from low latitude sunspots in the 1850s and arrived at 25.38 days for the sidereal rotation period. Sidereal rotation is measured relative to the stars, but because the Earth is orbiting the Sun, we see this period as 27.2753 days.’ – Wikipedia

Picking this ball up and running with it, we find there are 308 CarRots (27.2753 d) per 331 solar sidereal days (25.38 d) in 23 years (331 – 308). This period, or a multiple of it, can be found in certain identified solar-planetary cycles (as discussed below).


Jupiter dominates the solar system

Jupiter dominates the solar system

By far the two largest bodies in our solar system are Jupiter and Saturn. In terms of angular momentum: ‘That of Jupiter contributes the bulk of the Solar System’s angular momentum, 60.3%. Then comes Saturn at 24.5%, Neptune at 7.9%, and Uranus at 5.3%’ (source), leaving only 2% for everything else. Jupiter and Saturn together account for nearly 85% of the total.

The data tell us that for every 21 Jupiter-Saturn (J-S) conjunctions there are 382 Jupiter-Earth (J-E) conjunctions and 403 Saturn-Earth (S-E) conjunctions (21 + 382 = 403).

Since one J-S conjunction moves 117.14703 degrees retrograde from the position of the previous one, the movement of 21 will be 21 x 117.14703 = 2460.0876, or 2460 degrees as a round number.

The nearest multiple of a full rotation of 360 degrees to 2460 is 2520 (= 7 x 360).
Therefore 21 J-S has a net movement of almost 60 degrees (2520 – 2460) from its start position.


In a Bishop Hill discussion about some very dodgy stats methods the mainstream cli-sci community is using, this nice little factoid popped up from commenter ‘dearieme’:

The Jeffreys Prior: fine, but one must be careful not to follow Sir Harold in all his science.

From Wikipedia: Jeffreys was a strong opponent of continental drift. For him, continental drift was “out of the question” because no force even remotely strong enough to move the continents across the Earth’s surface was evident.

GPS measured global plate motion. Source: Wikipedia commons

GPS measured global plate motion. Source: Wikipedia commons

Which put me in mind of those solar scientists such as Leif Svalgaard who say that planetary effects on the Sun are “out of the question because no force from the planets even remotely strong enough to affect the Sun is evident”.

Which led me to wonder if consideration of the forces which move continents around might throw up any ideas about the planetary-solar connection. What I discovered on Wikipedia’s plate tectonics page is that the question of what the forces are, and how strong they are relative to each other is very much an open question and a hot subject of ongoing debate.


My thanks to Ian Wilson for an update on his tidal-torquing model, which relates the motion of Venus, Earth and Jupiter to changes in sunspot numbers and the flows observed on the Solar surface. This elegant solution looks very promising in terms of forecasting solar variation, as well as offering a hypothesis explaining a mechanism underlying the strong correlations between solar variation and planetary motion. The following article is reposted from Ian’s excellent blog.

Ian Wilson : November 2012

The problem with the collective blog postings about the
Spin-Orbit Coupling or Tidal-Torquing Model that are described
at the end of this post is that they only look at the tidal-torquing
(i.e. the pushing and pulling of Jupiter upon the Venus-Earth
tidal bulge in the Solar convective zone) when Venus and Earth
are inferior conjunction (i.e. when Venus and Earth are on the
same side of the Sun). However, a tidal bulge is also produced
when Venus and the Earth align on opposites sides of the Sun,
as well (i.e at superior conjunction).

This means that in the real world, tidal bulges are induced in
the convective layer of the Sun once every 0.8 years rather
than every 1.6 years, as assumed in the original basic model.
This is achieved by a sequence of alternating conjunctions
of Venus and the Earth:


I came across this old paper, which may turn out to be very important. Balfour Stewart was head of solar research at Kew Observatory in the latter part of the C19th. This study demonstrates an effect of the planets on the size of sunspots, which may be connected with gravitationl, tidal and electro-magnetic forces interactions operating in the heliosphere.


A lot of people might visit here, see some fairly technical conversation going on, and wonder, “What’s it all about?” So I thought I’d devote a thread to explaining what we mean when we refer to ‘solar – planetary theory’. This thread is a first attempt at clearly summarizing it, and I hope a stimulating discussion will follow so that we can refine the hastily written outline presented here.

In a nutshell, it is the hypothesis that the solar system is a system in the fullest sense of the word. That is: As well as the sun having a big effect on the planets (warming them with it’s radiation, keeping them in their orbits with it’s gravity, warding off a lot of the galactic cosmic rays from entering with it’s solar wind etc), the planets also have an effect on each other, and on the sun, causing it’s complicated motion around the centre of mass of the solar system, modulating solar magnetic activity and the production of sunspots.

Issac Newton in his famous book ‘Principia Mathematica’ described the motion of the sun around the centre of mass, but held the opinion that ‘the sun feels no forces’ because according to his theory of Gravitation, the sun would be ‘in free-fall’.

So why do proponents of solar-planetary theory think the planets can affect the sun?

Firstly, Newton, although he quantified the gravitational force, didn’t try to explain what gravity was, or how it has it’s affect on matter. “I frame no hypotheses” he famously said. He lived in an age when ‘Natural Philosophy’ was trying to escape ideas which involved ‘action at a distance’. But gravity seemed to be an ‘action at a distance’ force par exellence.

Secondly, Newtons laws of motion deal with idealized objects which are homogenous, rigid, and free of frictional and other forces. We don’t know much about the interior of the sun, but we do know it’s surface layers are much less dense than it’s deeper layers, and that the density gradient from surface to core may not be linear. We also know the surface layers are highly mobile and fluid, and are highly magnetized. This means the sun might get jiggled around internally as it moves in it’s complicated dance around the solar system barycenter.

Thirdly, there appear to be correlations between changes in solar activity (particularly sunspot number) and the inter-related motions of the planets over the course of time. Paul D. Jose in his 1965 paper showed a coincidence between the changes in the sun’s angular momentum as it jiggled around the solar sytem’s center of mass, and the number of sunspots appearing on it’s surface.

So what’s the problem? Why is this a controversial area of research?

If the planets affect the sun, and the sun affects Earth’s climate, discovering how it works might alter the way we view climate change. Small changes in the Earth’s motion coincide with changes in climate, and Paul Vaughan has been discovering some very good correlations between these climate factors and changes in Earth’s motion caused by the other planets and the sun. Petr ‘semi’  Semerad has discovered that changes in Venus and  Earth’s angular momentum coincide with the ~11 year sunspot cycles. Geoff Sharp has discovered the big outer planets move in a rhythm coinciding with drops in solar activity every ~178 years, the size of which depend on the phase of the sunspot cycle when the sudden changes in angular momentum of the sun occur.

Another problem is that just like Newton didn’t know how gravity worked (and we still don’t), we don’t yet know for sure what the mechanisms are by which the planetary motions affect the sun and individual planets, although we have a pretty good body of evidence to show they do.  Several possible mechanisms have been put forward, and investigations using the available data are ongoing. These include three main areas covered by posts on this blog:

Tidal forces, similar to the tidal effects of the Moon on the Earth.

Gravitational effects on the angular momentum of different parts of the sun as it revolves in it’s peculiar orbit around the centre of mass or ‘Barycenter’ of the solar system (SSB for short).

Electromagnetic effects due to interactions between the solar and interplanetary magnetic fields and the magnetospheres of several of the planets.

Some physicists dismiss these possibilities because they believe the forces involved would be too small to have any effect on the sun. Proponents of the solar- planetary theory disagree, and believe that the possibilities must be quantified, predictions made and tests performed before the hypothesis can be falsified.

What form could these tests take?
What resources are required?
Who’s going to fund a program of investigation?

Answers on a postcard, or just add your thoughts or questions below.