Posts Tagged ‘solar system’

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.


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.


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.


Credit: BBC

The fact is we live in a *solar* system. As the author concludes: ‘It is time … to focus on understanding the sun-climate connection. We need to see the sun in climate change.’

There is a lot of debate about the sun’s role in global warming and climate change says David Wojick, Ph.D.. Some scientists argue that the sun plays the dominant role, making human activity insignificant.

Much of this argument is based on statistical analysis of very long proxy records. One can see a very good example of this thinking, as well as the debate surrounding it, in a recent article on Judith Curry’s Outstanding “Climate, Etc.” science blog.

The article is titled “Nature Unbound VI Centennial to millennial solar cycles.”


Getting any response from 13 billion miles away is quite a feat.
But what will the aliens make of Chuck Berry?

Engineers experience “joy and incredulity” as a successful test extends the life of the farthest human-made object from Earth, reports Sky News.

NASA has been able to extend the life of one of its space probes travelling 13 billion miles from Earth by firing up dormant thrusters not used for 37 years.

Voyager 1 was launched in September 1977 and is the only human-made object in interstellar space – the environment between the stars.

But after four decades of exploration which have taken in fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, engineers found that the primary thrusters which orient the space probe had severely degraded.

So, in an attempt to keep Voyager 1 operable, NASA tested four thrusters on the back side of the spacecraft which have not been used 1980.


From left, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. [Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute]

The planetary theory aspect appears a bit later, but first a brief review of some relevant details.

In this Talkshop post: Why Phi? – a triple conjunction comparison we said:
(1) What is the period of a Jupiter(J)-Saturn(S)-Earth(E) (JSE) triple conjunction?
JSE = 21 J-S or 382 J-E or 403 S-E conjunctions (21+382 = 403) in 417.166 years (as an average or mean value).

(2) What is the period of a Jupiter(J)-Saturn(S)-Venus(V) (JSV) triple conjunction?
JSV = 13 J-S or 398 J-V or 411 S-V conjunctions (13+398 = 411) in 258.245 years (as an average or mean value).

Since JSV = 13 J-S and JSE = 21 J-S, the ratio of JSV:JSE is 13:21 exactly (in theory).

As these are consecutive Fibonacci numbers, the ratio is almost 1:Phi or the golden ratio.

Pluto probe

Uncertainty abounds here. Scientists expected –173° Celsius but ‘the probe found temperatures closer to –203° — with no obvious explanation.’ Perhaps there is a place where enlightenment could be found, if they cared to look.

Meanwhile the ‘gas only’ theory is under pressure [sic] again, as Pluto’s atmosphere apparently defies expectations.

Pluto may be the only place in the solar system whose atmosphere is kept cool by solid hazes, not warmed by gas, says Science News.

Blame Pluto’s haze for the dwarf planet’s unexpected chilliness. Clusters of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere radiate heat back into space, keeping the dwarf planet cool, a new study suggests.


This started as a search for a period when the Sun and the Moon would both complete a whole number of rotations.
The result was:
Solar: 25.38 days * 197 = 4999.860 d
Lunar: 27.321662 * 183 = 4999.864 d
(data sources: see reference notes at end)

Taking these as equivalent, we have 197-183 = 14 ‘beats’.
197 = 14*14, +1
183 = 13*14, +1
4999.864 / 14 = 357.13314 days
357.13314 days * 45/44 = 365.2498 days
45 * 14 (630) beats = 44 * 14 (616) calendar years, difference = 0.022 day

So the beat period of the two rotations is 44/45ths of a year, i.e. the difference in number of rotations is exactly 1 in that length of time.
630 beats = 616 years (630 – 616 = 14)
616/45 = 13.68888 calendar years = 4999.8663 days
184 lunar sidereal months (rotations) = 4999.864 days

Then something else popped up…

The Phi factor:
‘We recover a 22.14-year cycle of the solar dynamo.’ (2016 paper)
See: Why Phi? – modelling the solar cycle

Solar Hale cycle = ~22.14 years (est. mean)
13.68888 * Phi = 22.149~ years
22.14 / 13.68888 = 1.61737 (99.96% of Phi)
(55/34 = 1.617647)

From the same post:
Jupiter-Saturn axial period (J+S) is 8.456146 years.
That’s when the sum of J and S orbital movement in the conjunction period = 1

13.68888 / 8.456146 = 1.618808
Phi = 1.618034

This cycle of solar and lunar sidereal rotation (SRC) sits at the mid-point of the Phi²:1 ratio between the J+S axial period and the mean solar Hale cycle, i.e. with a Phi ratio to one and inverse Phi to the other.
SRC = (J+S) * Phi
SRC = Hale / Phi
SRC = Hale – (J+S)
(Mean Hale value is assumed)

In a period of 616 years there are 45 SRC.
The period is 44 * 14 years = 45 SRC = 45 * 14 beats.
SRC * (45/44) = 14 years.

Carrington rotations per 616 y = 8249
8249 CR / 45 = 4999.865 days

Synodic months per 616 y = 7619
7619 SM / 45 = 4999.856 days
8249 – 7619 = 630 = 45 * 14

45*183 sidereal months = 8235
8235 – 7619 = 616
8249 CR – 8235 Sid.M = 14
Beat period of CR and Sid.M = 616/14 = 44 years = 45 * (13.6888 / 14)
Every 44 years there will be exactly one less lunar rotation (sidereal month) than the number of Carrington rotations.

8249 CR – 7619 synodic months = 630 = 45 * 14
630 – 616 = 14
– – –
The anomalistic year

The beat period of the tropical month and solar sidereal rotation * 45/44 = the anomalistic year.
(27.321582 * 25.38) / (27.321582 – 25.38) = 357.14265 days
45 * 357.14265 = 16071.419 days
44 * 365.259636 = 16071.423 days

The anomalistic year is the time taken for the Earth to complete one revolution with respect to its apsides. The orbit of the Earth is elliptical; the extreme points, called apsides, are the perihelion, where the Earth is closest to the Sun (January 3 in 2011), and the aphelion, where the Earth is farthest from the Sun (July 4 in 2011). The anomalistic year is usually defined as the time between perihelion passages. Its average duration is 365.259636 days (365 d 6 h 13 min 52.6 s) (at the epoch J2011.0).
– – –
Data sources

— Carrington Solar Coordinates:
Richard C. Carrington determined the solar rotation rate by watching low-latitude sunspots in the 1850s. He defined a fixed solar coordinate system that rotates in a sidereal frame exactly once every 25.38 days (Carrington, Observations of the Spots on the Sun, 1863, p 221, 244). The synodic rotation rate varies a little during the year because of the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit; the mean synodic value is about 27.2753 days.

— The standard meridian on the sun is defined to be the meridian that passed through the ascending node of the sun’s equator on 1 January 1854 at 1200 UTC and is calculated for the present day by assuming a uniform sidereal period of rotation of 25.38 days (synodic rotation period of 27.2753 days, Carrington rotation).

The sidereal month is the time between maximum elevations of a fixed star as seen from the Moon. In 1994-1998, it was 27.321662 days.

A/2017 U1 may be from beyond our solar system [image credit: Tony873004 / Wikipedia]

This is real, unlike the object in the 1980s spoof ‘It Came From Somewhere Else’, described by one critic as ‘filmed on a shoestring budget, without the shoe and without the string’ – but amusing anyway. “We have been waiting for this day for decades,” said one scientist.

A small, recently discovered asteroid – or perhaps a comet – appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy, says If so, it would be the first “interstellar object” to be observed and confirmed by astronomers.

This unusual object – for now designated A/2017 U1 – is less than a quarter-mile (400 meters) in diameter and is moving remarkably fast.

Astronomers are urgently working to point telescopes around the world and in space at this notable object. Once these data are obtained and analyzed, astronomers may know more about the origin and possibly the composition of the object.


Where is Planet 9? [credit: NASA]

Planetary theorists say super-Earths are commonly found in other planetary systems, but missing – so far – in our solar system. The evidence seems to be mounting, so is it just a case of tracking one down?

It might be lingering bashfully on the icy outer edges of our solar system, hiding in the dark, but subtly pulling strings behind the scenes: stretching out the orbits of distant bodies, perhaps even tilting the entire solar system to one side, says NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

If a planet is there, it’s extremely distant and will stay that way (with no chance — in case you’re wondering — of ever colliding with Earth, or bringing “days of darkness”). It is a possible “Planet Nine” — a world perhaps 10 times the mass of Earth and 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune.

The signs so far are indirect, mainly its gravitational footprints, but that adds up to a compelling case nonetheless.


Where is Planet 9? [credit: NASA]

This may say something about what is not likely to be true about the mysterious, or mythical, Planet 9 but obviously it’s still all in the realms of theory. If it did form around the sun, how did it get to be so much further away from it than the known major planets in the solar system?

Astronomers at the University of Sheffield have shown that ‘Planet 9’ – an unseen planet on the edge of our solar system – probably formed closer to home than previously thought, reports

A team led by Dr Richard Parker from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy has found that Planet 9 is ‘unlikely’ to have been captured from another planetary system, as has previously been suggested, and must have formed around the sun.

The outskirts of the solar system have always been something of an enigma, with astronomers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries searching for a giant planet that wasn’t there, and the subsequent discovery of Pluto in 1930.


Credit: NASA

Among other findings, solar EUV [extreme ultraviolet radiation] turns out to be a greater planetary force than expected in this new research. Also the bow shock is greater the nearer Mars gets to the Sun during its orbit.

As the energetic particles of the solar wind speed across interplanetary space, their motion is modified by objects in their path. A study, based on data from ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, has thrown new light on a surprising interaction between the planet Mars and supersonic particles in the solar wind, reports

Scientists have long been aware that a feature known as a bow shock
forms upstream of a planet – rather like the bow of a ship, where the water is slowed and then diverted around the obstacle.

The bow shock marks a fairly sharp boundary where the solar wind slows suddenly as it begins to plough into a planet’s magnetosphere or outer atmosphere.

In the case of Mars, which does not generate a global magnetic field and has a thin atmosphere, the main obstacle to the solar wind is the ionosphere – a region of electrically charged particles in its upper atmosphere.


These two 1977 vintage machines really are ‘cosmic overachievers’ as this report calls them. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in 2012, but the last science instrument is not due to be switched off until 2030.

Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September.

Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier. Their story has not only impacted generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth’s culture, including film, art and music.

Each spacecraft carries a Golden Record of Earth sounds, pictures and messages. Since the spacecraft could last billions of years, these circular time capsules could one day be the only traces of human civilization.


A compact model of the heliosphere, supported by the latest data [Credit: Dialynas, et al.]

It seems the interstellar magnetic field is a lot more powerful than scientists expected, as reports.

New data from NASA’s Cassini mission, combined with measurements from the two Voyager spacecraft and NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, suggests that our sun and planets are surrounded by a giant, rounded system of magnetic field from the sun—calling into question the alternate view of the solar magnetic fields trailing behind the sun in the shape of a long comet tail.

The sun releases a constant outflow of magnetic solar material—called the solar wind—that fills the inner solar system, reaching far past the orbit of Neptune. This solar wind creates a bubble, some 23 billion miles across, called the heliosphere. Our entire solar system, including the heliosphere, moves through interstellar space.

The prevalent picture of the heliosphere was one of comet-shaped structure, with a rounded head and an extended tail.

The largest ‘TNOs’

This is about the ‘no-name’ dwarf planet 2007 OR10, which has the unusual property of being 3 times further from the Sun at aphelion (furthest) than at perihelion (nearest).

Everybody gets a moon! With the discovery of a small moon orbiting the third-largest dwarf planet, all the large objects that orbit beyond Neptune now have satellites, reports New Scientist.

Trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) spend most or all of their orbits beyond Neptune. Last April, the dwarf planet Makemake became the ninth of the ten TNOs with diameters near or above 1,000 kilometres known to have a moon.

So when dwarf planet 2007 OR10 was found to be rotating more slowly than expected, it was suspected that a moon might be the culprit.

A 'normal' binary system

A ‘normal’ binary system

Have fun trying to imagine how this solar system works, as iTech Post describes its unusual structure.

Astronomers have discovered the first binary-binary solar system. The discovery is said to have implications on the way people perceive the solar system was formed.

The discovered solar system has two stars as well and a planet revolving. The new binary system has been named HD 87646. It is made up of one star, a brown dwarf star, and a massive planet, according to Science Daily. The large planet is 12 times the mass of Jupiter while the brown dwarf is 57 times the mass of Jupiter. The two are in close proximity as well to the primary star.

What makes the system interesting is that it defies what people know how a solar system is. Typically astronomers think that the solar system formed out of a disk dust cloud, with the large outer planets farther out from the primary star. Yet with HD 87646 the objects are far closer than how the outer planets are in our solar system.


The Kuiper Belt region [credit:]

The Kuiper Belt region [credit:]

Details are sketchy but the object is said to be ‘beyond the pull of Neptune’s gravity’, so we can only speculate what and where its planetary master(s) might be.

A team of space scientists at the University of Michigan has discovered a dwarf planet that is approximately half the size of Pluto and twice as far from the sun, reports

The sighting was reported by NPR, which interviewed team lead physicist David Gerdes. He told them credit goes to a group of students who were challenged to find some new objects to add to the ongoing construction of a galaxy map.


Spiral galaxy NGC 5457 aka the Pinwheel Galaxy [image credit: European Space Agency & NASA]

Spiral galaxy NGC 5457 aka the Pinwheel Galaxy [image credit: European Space Agency & NASA]

One in the eye for dark matter theorists it seems, as reports.

In the late 1970s, astronomers Vera Rubin and Albert Bosma independently found that spiral galaxies rotate at a nearly constant speed: the velocity of stars and gas inside a galaxy does not decrease with radius, as one would expect from Newton’s laws and the distribution of visible matter, but remains approximately constant.

Such ‘flat rotation curves’ are generally attributed to invisible, dark matter surrounding galaxies and providing additional gravitational attraction.


A long way from the Sun: theoretical Planet Nine

A long way from the Sun: theoretical Planet Nine

This story surfaced two months ago but – better late than never – we’d like to draw it to the attention of Talkshop readers, at least those who haven’t seen it already.

Two recent studies have shown that the existence of a mysterious, hypothetical Planet Nine could explain why the planets in our Solar System don’t fully line up with the Sun, reports ScienceAlert.

Researchers have been speculating about a ninth planet since January this year, and these latest studies add more weight to the hypothesis that, at some point in time at least, there was an extra planet orbiting our Sun.

In fact, if Planet Nine does exist (or did), it would help to explain something that scientists have puzzled over for decades – why the Solar System is tilted.


Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Strictly speaking it’s been 68 years but we get the idea.
For links to videos see the original IB Times report

For the first time in 70 years, the full moon will rise on the day of the summer solstice. The rare astronomical event will occur on Monday (20 June 2016) and will be observed all around the world.

Solstices happen twice a year and correspond to the moment when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point from Earth as it orbits the Sun.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice marks the beginning of summer and is the longest day of the year, because it has the longest period of daylight. [Well, yes.]