Posts Tagged ‘solar system’

Huge Comet Discovery

Posted: June 25, 2021 by oldbrew in Astronomy, News, solar system dynamics
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It’s really big, but its vast orbit won’t bring it past Earth.

Spaceweather.com

June 23, 2021: Astronomers have just discovered a comet so big, it might actually be a minor planet. The object is named 2014 UN271. Astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein found it in archival images from the Dark Energy Survey. It appears to be about 100 km wide, 2 or 3 times bigger than record-breaking Comet Hale-Bopp of the 1990s.

Above: A discovery image and orbit of huge Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein

Now for the bad news. Although 2014 UN271 is falling toward the sun, we may never see it with our naked eyes. At closest approach in early 2031, the behemoth comet will be just outside the orbit of Saturn, too far for naked-eye viewing. Some astronomers are estimating a maximum brightness near magnitude +17, about the same as Pluto’s moon Charon.

It’s still an amazing discovery. 2014 UN271 has an extremely elongated orbit stretching from ~the neighborhood of…

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Some carbonaceous chondrites from earlier finds [image credit: NASA]


This rare type of meteorite (less than 5% of all known falls) was also collected by the Japanese Hayabusa space probe from an asteroid in 2010, but these UK samples arrived free of charge. The linked report includes an interview with the ‘wobbly legs’ researcher who collected it.
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Several rocky fragments have been recovered from the fireball that lit up the sky above southern England just over a week ago, reports BBC News.

They came down in the Winchcombe area of Gloucestershire.

A householder first alerted experts after noticing a pile of charred stone on his driveway. Other members of the public have since come forward with their own finds.

It’s 30 years since meteorite material was last retrieved in the UK.

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Clouds on Mars [image credit: NASA]


Regarding the Earth’s equivalent Chandler wobble, Wikipedia says: ‘Since the Chandler wobble should die down in a matter of decades or centuries, there must be influences that continually re-excite it.’ Presumably the same will apply to Mars, but as relevant observations are all fairly recent no conclusion can be reached at present.
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Spacecraft find that Mars oscillates 10 centimeters off its axis of rotation, says Eos.

In a first for a solar system body other than Earth, scientists have detected the Chandler wobble on Mars, a repeated movement of the poles on the surface of the planet away from its average axis of rotation.

The Chandler wobble arises when a rotating body isn’t a perfect sphere. This imbalance affects its spin.

The result is a wiggle resembling that of a swaying top as it loses speed, rather than the smooth spin of a perfectly balanced globe.

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Credit: earth.com


Greetings Earthlings, or should we say ‘habitable-zone-dwelling asteroid dodgers’? We even have the right amount of atmosphere — not too little (like Mars) or too much (like Venus), and the essential oxygen.
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Pure chance is the reason that Planet Earth has stayed habitable for billions of years.

A new study has found that it’s nothing more than good luck that has kept our world full of life, reports I-news.

Scientists at the University of Southampton have carried out a mass simulation of climate evolution of 100,000 randomly generated planets.

Each planet was simulated 100 times with random climate-altering events occurring each time in order to see if habitable life could be sustained for three billion years like on Earth.

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Model dinosaur


The lead author of the study puts the blame on “the largest cataclysmic impacts and massive volcanism, perhaps sometimes working in concert.” The study says: ‘The correlations and similar cycles in marine and non-marine extinction episodes suggest a common cause’. Note: this is a follow-up to a 2015 study with the same lead author, also featured at the Talkshop.
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Mass extinctions of land-dwelling animals—including amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds—follow a cycle of about 27 million years, coinciding with previously reported mass extinctions of ocean life, according to a new analysis published in the journal Historical Biology.

The study also finds that these mass extinctions align with major asteroid impacts and devastating volcanic outpourings of lava called flood-basalt eruptions—providing potential causes for why the extinctions occurred, reports Phys.org.

“It seems that large-body impacts and the pulses of internal Earth activity that create flood-basalt volcanism may be marching to the same 27-million-year drumbeat as the extinctions, perhaps paced by our orbit in the Galaxy,” said Michael Rampino, a professor in New York University’s Department of Biology and the study’s lead author.

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


At the south pole of Jupiter lurks a striking sight—even for a gas giant planet covered in colorful bands that sports a red spot larger than the Earth, says Phys.org.

Down near the south pole of the planet, mostly hidden from the prying eyes of humans, is a collection of swirling storms arranged in an unusually geometric pattern.

Since they were first spotted by NASA’s Juno space probe in 2019, the storms have presented something of a mystery to scientists.

The storms are analogous to hurricanes on Earth. However, on our planet, hurricanes do not gather themselves at the poles and twirl around each other in the shape of a pentagon or hexagon, as do Jupiter’s curious storms.

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Scientists report electric fields naturally occurring in the comet’s atmosphere in connection with its auroras. NASA calls them electromagnetic emissions.

Spaceweather.com

Sept. 22, 2020: Imagine putting your thumb on a garden hose and sending a jet of water into the sky. At the apex of the stream, auroras form. It turns out, some comets can actually perform this trick.

In a paper published this week in Nature Astronomy, researchers described how comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko turns vaporous jets of water into auroras.

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft observed the weird lights while it was orbiting Comet 67P in 2014-2016. At first researchers misunderstood what the glow was. It couldn’t be an aurora, could it? For one thing, the comet doesn’t even have a magnetic field–a key ingredient of geomagnetic storms. Also, the lights of Comet 67P are invisible to the human eye. They shine at far ultraviolet wavelengths, unlike the familiar red and green curtains that dance around Earth’s poles.

“Nevertheless, they are auroras,” says Marina Galand of Imperial College London…

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Sunspots [image credit: NASA]


But it should be a lot shorter than the famous Maunder Minimum, if the prediction in this editorial works out. There’s also a new paper, introduced here by the GWPF, which concludes:
“The fundamental oscillations of solar irradiance, in turn, may be linked to the oscillations of the baseline terrestrial temperature, independent of any terrestrial processes of radiative transfer and heating.”

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In this editorial I will demonstrate with newly discovered solar activity proxy-magnetic field that the Sun has entered into the modern Grand Solar Minimum (2020–2053) that will lead to a significant reduction of solar magnetic field and activity like during Maunder minimum leading to noticeable reduction of terrestrial temperature.

Sun is the main source of energy for all planets of the solar system. This energy is delivered to Earth in a form of solar radiation in different wavelengths, called total solar irradiance.

Variations of solar irradiance lead to heating of upper planetary atmosphere and complex processes of solar energy transport toward a planetary surface.

The signs of solar activity are seen in cyclic 11-year variations of a number of sunspots on the solar surface using averaged monthly sunspot numbers as a proxy of solar activity for the past 150 years.

Solar cycles were described by the action of solar dynamo mechanism in the solar interior generating magnetic ropes at the bottom of solar convective zone.

These magnetic ropes travel through the solar interior appearing on the solar surface, or photosphere, as sunspots indicating the footpoints where these magnetic ropes are embedded into the photosphere.

Continued here.
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Appendix 1: S-E distances from the ephemeris

Appendix 2: Solar irradiance variations based on the distance changes

Solar flare erupting from a sunspot [image credit: space.com]


The idea being proposed is described as a reverse piezo-electrical effect.
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Ground-shaking earthquakes occur all across the globe. And according to a new study, many of them might be triggered by the Sun, says Astronomy.com.

Through decades of research, scientists have learned that large, powerful earthquakes commonly occur in groups, not in random patterns. But exactly why has so far remained a mystery.

Now, new research, published July 13 in Scientific Reviews, asserts the first strong — though still disputed — evidence that powerful eruptions on the Sun can trigger mass earthquake events on Earth.

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Credit: NASA


Could there even be more than one black hole? The search for a significant extra planet has drawn a blank so far.
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A coming sky survey will help test a wild idea — that a grapefruit-sized black hole lurks undiscovered in the outer solar system, says Mike Wall @ Space.com.

Over the past few years, researchers have noticed an odd clustering in the orbits of multiple trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), which dwell in the dark depths of the far outer solar system.

Some scientists have hypothesized that the TNOs’ paths have been sculpted by the gravitational pull of a big object way out there, something 5 to 10 times more massive than Earth (though others think the TNOs may just be tugging on each other).

This big “perturber,” if it exists, may be a planet — the so-called “Planet Nine,” or “Planet X” or “Planet Next” for those who will always regard Pluto as the ninth planet.

But there’s another possibility as well: The shepherding object may be a black hole, one that crams all that mass into a sphere the size of a grapefruit.

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The orbit of Triton (red) is opposite in direction and tilted −23° compared to a typical moon’s orbit (green) in the plane of Neptune’s equator [image credit: Wikipedia]


Triton orbits the ‘wrong’ way round Neptune, is far larger than all the other Neptunian moons, and has a high tilt angle, among other peculiar traits. In short, it has some explaining to do.
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When NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune’s strange moon Triton three decades ago, it wrote a planetary science cliffhanger, says Technology.org.

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, and it left a lot of unanswered questions.

The views were as stunning as they were puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton‘s surface. But how?

Images showed that the icy landscape was young and had been resurfaced over and over with fresh material. But what material, and from where?

How could an ancient moon six times farther from the Sun than Jupiter still be active? Is there something in its interior that is still warm enough to drive this activity?

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During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona and prominences are visible to the naked eye [image credit: Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be ]


There’s an interesting time-series animation of the solar corona here. Clear differences in the corona at solar minimum compared to maximum were observed by the globetrotting researchers.
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While the world has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have been hard at work studying the solar corona, the outermost atmosphere of the sun which expands into interplanetary space, reports Phys.org.

This stream of charged particles radiating from the surface of the sun is called the solar wind and expands to fill the entire solar system.

The properties of the solar corona are a consequence of the sun’s complex magnetic field, which is produced in the solar interior and extends outward.

A new study by IfA graduate student Benjamin Boe, published Wednesday, June 3rd in the Astrophysical Journal, used total solar eclipse observations to measure the shape of the coronal magnetic field with higher spatial resolution and over a larger area than ever before.

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Credit: Wikipedia


Time for another Tunguska meteor theory.
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When a meteor zooms toward Earth at 45,000 mph with the strength 10-15 megatons of TNT—185 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb—it could possibly take out the entire planet, says Syfy.

If something like that doesn’t scream total annihilation, it’s hard to say what does, except this time it just missed.

Scorched earth and flattened trees were all that was left of the mysterious object after it passed dangerously close to the Tunguska region of Siberia in 1908.

Theories have ranged from a black hole colliding with Earth to a clash of matter and antimatter to an alien spaceship crash-landing. An eyewitness even swore the sky was being ripped in two. But why no crater? No debris?

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It now seems all planetary bodies can have magnetospheres, whether or not they have a significant magnetic field. This would also help to explain why Venus, with hardly any ‘protective’ magnetic field, has a much thicker atmosphere than Earth. Wikipedia might need an update.
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Five years after NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft entered into orbit around Mars, data from the mission has led to the creation of a map of electric current systems in the Martian atmosphere, reports Phys.org.

“These currents play a fundamental role in the atmospheric loss that transformed Mars from a world that could have supported life into an inhospitable desert,” said experimental physicist Robin Ramstad of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“We are now currently working on using the currents to determine the precise amount of energy that is drawn from the solar wind and powers atmospheric escape.” Ramstad is lead author of a paper on this research published May 25 in Nature Astronomy.

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Credit: NASA


Looks like game over for the Planet Nine idea. Unavoidable observational biases may be at least partly to blame.
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Planet Nine is a theoretical, undiscovered giant planet in the mysterious far reaches of our solar system, says The Conversation (via Phys.org)

The presence of Planet Nine has been hypothesized to explain everything from the tilt of the sun’s spin axis to the apparent clustering in the orbits of small, icy asteroids beyond Neptune.

But does Planet Nine actually exist?

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Natural gas flare [credit: Wikipedia]


It’s now thought that methane, aka natural gas, existed even before planet formation, which looks like the final nail in the coffin for the idea that it should be regarded exclusively as a ‘fossil’ fuel.
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An international team of astronomers has shown in a laboratory at Leiden University (the Netherlands) that methane can form on icy dust particles in space, reports Phys.org.

The possibility had existed for quite some time, but because the conditions in space were difficult to simulate, it was not possible to prove this under relevant space conditions.

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Some say it could be a remnant of the Great Comet of 1843.
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Spaceweather.com

March 24, 2020: No one knows how big the icy core of Comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4) might be–possibly no wider than a few kilometers. One thing’s for sure, though, the comet’s atmosphere is huge. New images from amateur astronomers around the world show that ATLAS’s gaseous envelope has ballooned in diameter to ~720,000 km–about half as wide as the sun.

cometatlas_inset

“Comet ATLAS’s coma (atmosphere) is approximately 15 arcminutes in diameter,” reports Michael Jäger of Weißenkirchen, Austria, who took the picture, above, on March 18th. “Its newly-formed tail is about the same size.”

Other astronomers are getting similar results. 15 arcminutes = a quarter of a degree. Given Comet ATLAS’s distance of 1.1 AU on March 18th, that angle corresponds to a physical size of 720,000 km.

On the scale of big things in the solar system, Comet ATLAS falls somewhere between the sun (1,392,000 km  diameter) and Jupiter…

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Image credit: beforeitsnews.com

The aim here is to show how the synodic periods and orbits of these three planets align with the so-called Grand Synod, a period of about 4628 years which has 27 Uranus-Neptune conjunctions and almost 233 Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions. Its half-period is sometimes referred to as the Hallstatt cycle (2314 years +/- a variable margin).

1. U-N ‘long period’
1420 Uranus-Neptune conjunctions = 1477 Neptune orbits
(for calculations, see Footnote)
1477 – 1420 = 57
Uranus-Neptune 360 degrees return is 1420/57 U-N = 24.91228 U-N long period = 4270.119 years

2. GS : U-N ratio
Grand Synod = 27 U-N = 4627.967 years (= ~233 Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions)
27 / 24.91228 = 1.0838028
1.0838028 * 12 = 13.005633
Therefore the ratio of 4627.967:4270.119 is almost exactly 13:12 (> 99.956% true)

3. Orbital data
Turning to the orbit periods nearest to the Grand Synod:
28 Neptune = 4614.157y
55 Uranus = 4620.927y
(Data: https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?planet_phys_par )

4. Factor of 12
These periods fall slightly short of the 27 U-N Grand Synod (~4628 years).
However, multiplying by 12 and adding one orbit to each, gives:
28*12,+1 (337) Neptune = 55534.67y
55*12,+1 (661) Uranus = 55535.14y
27*12 (661 – 337) U-N = 55535.61y

Now the numbers match to within a year +/- 55535 years.
Also, the period is 12 Grand Synods (12*4628 = 55536y), or 13 U-N ‘long’ periods.

5. Pluto data
Pluto’s orbit period is 247.92065 years.
55535 / 247.92065y = 224.003
So 224 Pluto orbits also equate to 12 Grand Synods.


Therefore, a U-N-P synodic chart can be created for that period of time.

6. Neptune:Pluto orbits
Neptune has one more orbit in the period than an exact 3:2 ratio with Pluto – a planetary resonance.
224 P = 112*2
337 N = 112*3, +1
113 N-P = 112, +1

7. Phi factor
Uranus and Neptune both have one more orbit than this ratio:
660:336 = (55*12):(21*16)
55/21 = Phi²
12/16 = 3/4
Therefore the U:N ratio is almost (3/4 of Phi²):1

The U-N-P chart should repeat every 12 Grand synods i.e. every 55,535 years or so.
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Footnote
360 / Neptune orbit (164.79132) = 2.184581
2.184581 * U-N conjunction (171.40619) = 374.4507
374.4507 – 360 = 14.4507

Obtain nearest multiple of 360 degrees:
1420 * 14.4507 = 20519.9994
20520 / 360 = 57
1420 + 57 = 1477
1420 U-N = 1477 Neptune orbits
1420 + 1477 = 2897 Uranus orbits

Update (Dec. 2020): the number of occurrences of the Uranus-Neptune conjunction precession in the period is 337 – 324 = 13. Therefore the ratio of that period to the Grand Synod (GS) is 13:12, because the GS is 27 U-N and 324 = 27*12.








Solar system [credit: BBC]

This new paper from our good friend Nicola Scafetta takes another look at the Sun’s cyclic behaviour and possible planetary influences on it, referencing various researchers whose work has appeared at the talkshop, along the way.
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Abstract
Gravitational planetary lensing of slow-moving matter streaming towards the Sun was suggested to explain puzzling solar-flare occurrences and other unexplained solar-emission phenomena (Bertolucci et al. in Phys. Dark Universe 17, 13, 2017). If it is actually so, the effect of gravitational lensing of this stream by heavy planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) could be manifested in solar activity changes on longer time scales too where solar records present specific oscillations known in the literature as the cycles of Bray–Hallstatt (2100–2500 yr), Eddy (800–1200 yr), Suess–de Vries (200–250 yr), Jose (155–185 yr), Gleissberg (80–100 year), the 55–65 yr spectral cluster and others. It is herein hypothesized that these oscillations emerge from specific periodic planetary orbital configurations that generate particular waves in the force-fields of the heliosphere which could be able to synchronize solar activity.

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Here we learn that the solar wind ‘has a sort of internal heater’, which may be short on scientific explanation but sounds interesting as far as it goes.
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There’s a wind that emanates from the sun, and it blows not like a soft whistle but like a hurricane’s scream, says Phys.org.

Made of electrons, protons, and heavier ions, the solar wind courses through the solar system at roughly 1 million miles per hour, barreling over everything in its path.

Yet through the wind’s roar, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe can hear small chirps, squeaks, and rustles that hint at the origins of this mysterious and ever-present wind.

Now, the team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which designed, built, and manages the Parker Solar Probe for NASA, is getting their first chance to hear those sounds, too.

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