NASA Missions Measure Solar Flare Electromagnetic Phenomenon

Solar flares are intense bursts of light from the Sun. They are created when complicated magnetic fields suddenly and explosively rearrange themselves, converting magnetic energy into light through a process called magnetic reconnection – at least, that’s the theory, because the signatures of this process are hard to detect. But during a December 2013 solar flare, three solar observatories captured the most comprehensive observations of an electromagnetic phenomenon called a current sheet, strengthening the evidence that this understanding of solar flares is correct.

eclectromagnetic sheet

These eruptions on the Sun eject radiation in all directions. The strongest solar flares can impact the ionized part of Earth’s atmosphere – the ionosphere – and interfere with our communications systems, like radio and GPS, and also disrupt onboard satellite electronics. Additionally, high-energy particles – including electrons, protons and heavier ions – are accelerated by solar flares.

Unlike other space weather events, solar flares travel at the speed of light, meaning we get no warning that they’re coming. So scientists want to pin down the processes that create solar flares – and even some day predict them before our communications can be interrupted.

Image converted using ifftoany

“The existence of a current sheet is crucial in all our models of solar flares,” said James McAteer, an astrophysicist at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and an author of a study on the December 2013 event, published on April 19, 2016, in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. “So these observations make us much more comfortable that our models are good.”

And better models lead to better forecasting, said Michael Kirk, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who was not involved in the study. “These complementary observations allowed unprecedented measurements of magnetic reconnection in three dimensions,” Kirk said. “This will help refine how we model and predict the evolution of solar flares.”

A current sheet is a very fast, very flat flow of electrically-charged material, defined in part by its extreme thinness compared to its length and width. Current sheets form when two oppositely-aligned magnetic fields come in close contact, creating very high magnetic pressure. Electric current flowing through this high-pressure area is squeezed, compressing it down to a very fast and thin sheet. It’s a bit like putting your thumb over the opening of a water hose – the water, or, in this case, the electrical current, is forced out of a tiny opening much, much faster. This configuration of magnetic fields is unstable, meaning that
the same conditions that create current sheets are also ripe for magnetic reconnection.

“Magnetic reconnection happens at the interface of oppositely-aligned magnetic fields,” said Chunming Zhu, a space scientist at New Mexico State University and lead author on the study. “The magnetic fields break and reconnect, leading to a transformation of the magnetic energy into heat and light, producing a solar flare.”

Because current sheets are so closely associated with magnetic reconnection, observing a current sheet in such detail backs up the idea that magnetic reconnection is the force behind solar flares.

“You have to be watching at the right time, at the right angle, with the right instruments to see a current sheet,” said McAteer. “It’s hard to get all those ducks in a row.”

This isn’t the first time scientists have observed a current sheet during a solar flare, but this study is unique in that several measurements of the current sheet – such as speed, temperature, density and size – were observed from more than one angle or derived from more than method.

This multi-faceted view of the December 2013 flare was made possible by the wealth of instruments aboard three solar-watching missions: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO – which has a unique viewing angle on the far side of the Sun – and Hinode, which is a collaboration between the space agencies of Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Even when scientists think they’ve spotted something that might be a current sheet in solar data, they can’t be certain without ticking off a long list of attributes. Since this current sheet was so well-observed, the team was able to confirm that its temperature, density, and size over the course of the event were consistent with a current sheet.

As scientists work up a better picture of how current sheets and magnetic reconnection lead to solar eruptions, they’ll be able to produce better models of the complex physics happening there – providing us with ever more insight on how our closest star affects space all around us.

This research was funded by a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to James McAteer.

JUST IN: New High-Energy Sources of Gamma and Cosmic Rays Discovered

A new sky map using the High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-Ray Observatory shows many new gamma ray sources within our own Milky Way galaxy. HAWC gives us a new way to see the high-energy sky. “This new data from HAWC shows the galaxy in unprecedented detail, revealing new high-energy sources and previously unseen details about existing sources.” said Jordan Goodman, professor of physics at the University of Maryland.

gamma ray burst233

Today, scientists operating HAWC released a new survey of the sky made from the highest energy gamma rays ever observed. The new sky map, which uses data collected since the observatory began running at full capacity last March, offers a deeper understanding of high-energy processes taking place in our galaxy and beyond.

In a region of the Milky Way where researchers previously identified a single gamma ray source named TeV J1930+188, HAWC identified several hot spots, indicating that the region is more complicated than previously thought.

new_equation 2012_m

New Equation:
Increase Charged Particles  and Decreasing Magnetic Field → Increase Outer Core Convection → Increase of Mantle Plumes → Increase in Earthquake and Volcanoes → Cools Mantle and Outer Core → Return of Outer Core Convection (Mitch Battros – July 2012)

“Studying these objects at the highest energies can reveal the mechanism by which they produce gamma rays and possibly help us unravel the hundred-year-old mystery of the origin of high-energy cosmic rays that bombard Earth from space,” said Goodman.

HAWC_graphic02_m

HAWC-located 13,500 feet above sea level on the slopes of Mexico’s Volcán Sierra Negra-contains 300 detector tanks, each holding 50,000 gallons of ultrapure water with four light sensors anchored to the floor. When gamma rays or cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere they set off a cascade of charged particles, and when these particles reach the water in HAWC’s detectors, they produce a cone-shaped flash of light known as Cherenkov radiation. The effect is much like a sonic boom produced by a supersonic jet, because the particles are traveling slightly faster than the speed of light in water when they enter the detectors.

HAWC Gamma-ray Observatory

Because HAWC observes 24 hours per day and year-round with a wide field-of-view and large area, the observatory boasts a higher energy reach for extended objects. In addition, HAWC can uniquely monitor for gamma ray flares by sources in our galaxy and other active galaxies, such as Markarian 421 and Markarian 501.

Shifting Jet Stream and Ocean Currents Cause of Extreme Weather

Disastrous floods in the Balkans two years ago are likely linked to the temporary slowdown of portions of Earth’s jet stream. Jet Stream patterns circling the globe in the form of large oscillating waves between the Equator and the North Pole, along with shifting ocean currents have caused extreme weather events over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia that poured out record amounts of rain.

shifing jet stream and ocean currents_m

The study adds evidence that planetary wave resonance is a key mechanism for causing extreme weather event. Further, the scientists showed that extreme rainfall events are strongly increasing in certain geological areas, in this case over the Balkans.

“We were surprised to see how long the weather system that led to this recent flooding stayed over the region,” says Lisa Stadtherr from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), lead-author of the study to be published in Science Advances. “Day after day the rain was soaking the soil until it was saturated, which lead to the flooding that reportedly caused several dozen casualties and 3.5 billion Euro of damages.”

equation 1998

Equation:
Sunspots → Solar Flares (charged particles) → Magnetic Field Shift → Shifting Ocean and Jet Stream Currents → Extreme Weather and Human Disruption (mitch battros 1998)

While the mean daily rainfall in the Balkans has increased only a little since 1950, the intensity of the strongest rainfall events rose by one third, the scientists found. In May 2014, daily rainfall amounts were locally bigger than ever before in the observed period. The frequency of such potentially devastating extremes in the Balkans, though they are still rare, doubled over the past sixty years.

convergence_zone

There was a similar situation in 1977 in Germany, resulting in the “Elbe” flooding. “This is worrisome because we’re seeing increasing extreme rainfall in many parts of the globe,” says co-author and PIK project head Dim Coumou. “The changes over the Balkan are substantially larger than those expected from simple warming of the air.” Regional temperatures rose by one degree since the middle of the past century, and the increased water holding capacity of warmer air intensifies heavy rainfall by about 7 percent per degree of warming. “Yet the observed rainfall changes in the Balkans are roughly five times that much – hence other factors must have come into play.”

This mechanism has first been put forward by PIK scientist Vladimir Petoukhov only a few years ago, opening a new branch of research; he is co-author of the present study. The scientists produced a video to explain the mechanism which might be a decisive factor for creating extreme weather events in summer in general. (actually by Mitch Battros in 1998)

equation 1998

“Our findings provide more evidence that planetary waves cause extreme weather events,” says co-author Stefan Rahmstorf, chair of PIK’s research team. “When such atmospheric waves start to oscillate this can have serious impacts for people on the ground. I am concerned this current climate cycle may be creating conditions more favorable for this kind of fluctuation.”

 

The Flyboard Air Hoverboard

When you post video of your new jet powered hoverboard, and half the world thinks it has to be fake, you know you’ve got something good. But Frank Zapata’s Flyboard Air is no hoax, it’s the real deal. How does one know? All you gotta do is ask him.

 Flyboard-zapata-720

These days, with millions of astute viewers scrutizing every physical detail, the easiest way to make a convincing video that gets all the physics of something like a jetpack flight right, is to first make the jetpack. What’s the hardest part of making a magic flying carpet you might ask? “The power is there”, says Frank, “and has been for some time, the trick is controlling it.” In other words, the technical challenge is building a responsive interface that integrates the control capabilities of the human nervous system and musculature with that of your machine.

Where the response time of a man-sized electric fan propulsion system may be around a second, a turbine of a similar power output would have a minimum lag of about three seconds. That’s one of the reasons, if not the main reason that turbine powered cars never really took off. But the ear doesn’t lie. If your craft sounds more like a hummingbird than a fighter jet, you can expect it to behave more like one in a strong headwind.

So how do you tame four microturbines putting out a total 160 kg of thrust? Controlling the power output of each turbine separately, like a quadrotor does, would be a difficult prospect. Even with thrust vectoring, which adds a whole extra layer of complexity, there are still basic stability issues. The Flyboard Air design sports two electric fans which control the yaw. Command the yaw, and bodyweight can get you a good bit further. It is probably worth pointing out at this point that if each turbine has its own electric starter motor, already we are up to six auxiliary motors on one craft. In theory, one could bleed off some bypass air from the turbines to power the control fans, but again, the power available from bypass would depend on turbine RPM.

With the current design, Frank says that he can take off and land on three turbines. However, if one turbine experiences an unplanned power loss in mid-flight, he notes that landing becomes rather tricky. One way to add symmetry and simplify the control of the machine would be to spin half of the turbines in the opposite direction. For anyone who might casually underestimate the stability issues involved in changing the direction of any rotating body with significant moment of ineritia there is a handy fix:

Grab an angle grinder that has a decent sized grinding wheel on it and turn it on. Now quickly rotate it upside down. The strong reaction force you feel compelling your arm to move in a totally unexpected direction can be quite surprising. If Frank switched to counter rotating turbines he estimates that he could see at least an additional 5-6% gain in performance.

Landings present unique challenges to many jetpack designs. In a platform style machine there is a significant ground effect that would blow hot exhaust gas back up to the inlets of the turbines. Despite their power turbines are fickle when it comes to thermodynamics conditions. Variables like inlet gas pressure, temperature, and humidity all critically effect performance. That’s probably why the video shows landings taking place on metal grates that don’t block the exhaust. For other kinds of designs, like the quad-turbine wing pack of famed jetman Yves Rossy, there simply is no landing—flight ends when the parachute is deployed.

But there is no reason why a VTOL style landing could not be acheived with a winged design, especially now that the power is there. Adding aerodynamic flight surfaces to platform designs like the Flyboard Air is also a possibility which remains to be explored. As described elsewhere, turbojet packs seem to have the advantage over bulky turbofan or even reciprocating engine powered ducted fan designs like the Martin jetpack.

Although Glen Martin’s design has been spun off into a chinese owned corporate venture, Glen has more recently resigned himself from the effort altogether. His fellow Aussies, who dramatically buzzed the statue of Liberty last year with a turbine jetpack dubbed the JB-9 may still be in the game, although we haven’t heard much from them.

The Flyboard Air, on the other hand, has the backing of Frank’s own successful business Zapata Racing, based in Marseille, France. Having birthed an entire industry of successful water jet powered boards and skies which fly above the surface of the water, we can look forward to a new line of innovative products from them.

BREAKING NEWS: Ecuador 7.8 Mag. Earthquake – Death Toll Jumps to 233; More Than 1,500 Wounded

The catastrophic earthquake that destroyed buildings in Ecuador on Saturday became far more devastating Sunday, when the death toll rose to 233 — and it’s expected to rise.

sign27

Another 1,500 people were injured, said Ricardo Peñaherrera of Ecuador’s national emergency management office.

“It was the worst experience of my life,” survivor Jose Meregildo said Sunday about the tremors that violently shook his house in Guayaquil, 300 miles away from the quake’s epicenter.

ecuador-earthquake

“Everybody in my neighborhood was screaming saying it was going to be the end of the world. Residents remain on the streets for fear of aftershocks in Pedernales on April 17.

ecuador-quake04-17-2016

People make their way through debris from a collapsed building in Pedernales on Sunday, April 17. A magnitude-7.8 quake struck off Ecuador’s central coast on Saturday, April 16, flattening buildings and buckling highways. It’s the deadliest quake to strike the South

The magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Saturday night as it buckled homes and knocked out power in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s most populous city, authorities said. Emergency officials recovered one body from the scene of a bridge collapse there.

ecuador-quake-04

“Many highways are in bad shape, especially in the mountainous area because it has been raining recently due to (the) El Niño weather phenomenon.”

Vice President Jorge Glas had said earlier the death toll is expected to rise.

A state of emergency is in effect for six provinces — Guayas, Manabi, Santo Domingo, Los Rios, Esmeraldas and Galapagos. Authorities urged those who left their homes in coastal areas to return after a tsunami alert was lifted.

During his Sunday prayer, Pope Francis asked for those present to pray for the people affected by the earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan.

“Last night a violent earthquake hit Ecuador, causing numerous victims and great damages,” Francis said. “Let’s pray for those populations, and for those of Japan, where as well there has been some earthquakes in the last days. The help of God and of the brothers give them strength and support.”

_______________________

Mitch Battros and Science of Cycles
Research Sponsorship Fundraiser
_science of cycles banner square

Be part of making less known stunning scientific
findings free to everyone.

Help Sponsor this drive with $10 or $10,000 – Recent donation: $100

If above banner does not work  -CLICK HERE-

UPDATE: Supernova Iron Found on the Moon

Now scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), together with colleagues from the US, have found increased concentrations of this supernova-iron in lunar samples as well. They believe both discoveries to originate from the same stellar explosion.

nebola3

A dying star ends its life in a cataclysmic explosion, shooting the majority of the star’s material, primarily new chemical elements created during the explosion, out into space.

One or more such supernovae appear to have occurred close to our solar system approximately two million years ago. Evidence of the fact has been found on the Earth in the form of increased concentrations of the iron isotope 60Fe detected in Pacific Ocean deep-sea crusts and in ocean-floor sediment samples.

_science of cycles fundraiser

This evidence is highly compelling: The radioactive 60Fe isotope is created almost exclusively in supernova explosions. And with a half-life of 2.62 million years, relatively short compared to the age of our solar system, any radioactive 60Fe originating from the time of the solar system’s birth should have long ago decayed into stable elements and thus should no longer be found on the Earth.

moon supernova3

This supernova hypothesis was first put forth in 1999 by researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) who had found initial evidence in a deep-sea crust. Now their claim has received further substantiation: Physicists at the TUM and their colleagues from the US have succeeded in demonstrating an unusually high concentration of 60Fe in lunar ground samples as well.

The samples were gathered between 1969 and 1972 during Apollo lunar missions 12, 15 and 16, which brought the lunar material back to Earth.

nebola

It’s also conceivable that 60Fe can occur on the moon as the result of bombardment with cosmic particles, since these particles do not break up when colliding with air molecules, as is the case with the Earth’s atmosphere. Instead, they directly impact the lunar surface and can thus result in transmutation of elements. “But this can only account for a very small portion of the 60Fe found,” explains Dr. Gunther Korschinek, physicist at TUM and scientist of the Cluster of Excellence Structure and Origin of the Universe.

Since the moon generally provides a better cosmic record than the Earth, the scientists were also able to specify for the first time an upper limit for the flow of 60Fe that must have reached the moon. Among other athings, this also makes it possible for the researchers to infer the distance to the supernova event: “The measured 60Fe-flow corresponds to a supernova at a distance of about 300 light years,” says Korschinek. “This value is in good agreement with a recently theoretical estimation published in Nature.”

Volcanologists Discover How Magma Bubbles Accumulate

_science of cycles fundraiser

 

In 1816, summer failed to make an appearance in central Europe and people were starving. Just a year earlier, the Tambora volcano had erupted in Indonesia, spewing huge amounts of ash and sulphur into the atmosphere. As these particles partly blocked sunlight, cooling the climate, it had a serious impact on the land and the people, even in Switzerland.

magma bubbles

Since then, volcanologists have developed more precise ideas of why super-volcanoes such as Tambora are not only highly explosive but also why they release so much sulphur into the atmosphere.

Gas bubbles tend to accumulate in the upper layers of magma reservoirs, which are only a few kilometers beneath the earth’s surface, building up pressure that can then be abruptly liberated by eruption. These bubbles mainly contain water vapor but also sulphur.

“Such volcanic eruptions can be extremely powerful and spew an enormous amount of ash and sulphur to the surface,” says Andrea Parmigiani, a post-doc in the Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology at ETH Zurich. “We’ve known for some time that gas bubbles play a major role in such events, but we had only been able to speculate on how they accumulate in magma reservoirs.”

Together with other scientists from ETH Zurich and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), the researchers studied the behavior of bubbles with a computer model.

The scientists used theoretical calculations and laboratory experiments to examine in particular how bubbles in crystal-rich and crystal-poor layers of magma reservoirs move buoyantly upward. In many volcanic systems, the magma reservoir consists mainly of two zones: an upper layer consisting of viscous melt with almost no crystals, and a lower layer rich in crystals, but still containing pore space.

When Andrea Parmigiani, Christian Huber and Olivier Bachmann started this project, they thought that the bubbles, as they moved upwards through crystal-rich areas of the magma reservoirs, would dramatically slow down, while they would go faster in the crystal-poor zones.

“Instead, we found that, under volatile-rich conditions, they would ascend much faster in the crystal-rich zones, and accumulate in the melt-rich portions above” says Parmigiani.

Parmigiani explains this as follows: when the proportion of bubbles in the pore space of the crystal-rich layers increases, small individual bubbles coalesce into finger-like channels, displacing the existing highly viscous melt. These finger-like channels allow for a higher vertical gas velocity. The bubbles, however, have to fill at least 10 to 15 % of the pore space.

“If the vapor phase cannot form these channels, individual bubbles are mechanically trapped,” says the earth scientist. As these finger-like channels reach the boundary of the crystal-poor melt, individual, more spherical bubbles detach, and continue their ascent towards the surface. However, the more bubble, the more reduce their migration velocity is.

This is because each bubble creates a return flow of viscous melt around it. When an adjacent bubble feels this return flow, it is slowed down. This process was demonstrated in a laboratory experiment conducted by Parmigiani’s colleagues Salah Faroughi and Christian Huber at Georgia Tech, using water bubbles in a viscous silicone solution.

“Through this mechanism, a large number of gas bubbles can accumulate in the crystal-poor melt under the roof of the magma reservoir. This eventually leads to over-pressurization of the reservoir,” says lead author Parmigiani. And because the bubbles also contain sulphur, this also accumulates, explaining why such a volcano might emit more sulphur than expected based on its composition.

What this means for the explosively of a given volcano is still unclear. “This study focuses primarily on understanding the basic principles of gas flow in magma reservoirs; a direct application to prediction of volcanic behavior remains a question for the future,” says the researcher, adding that existing computer models do not depict the entire magma reservoir, but only a tiny part of it: roughly a square of a few cubic centimeter with a clear boundary between the crystal-poor and crystal-rich layers.

To calculate this small volume, Parmigiani used high-performance computers such as the Euler Cluster at ETH Zurich and a supercomputer at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre in Lugano.

For the software, the researcher had access to the open-source library Palabos, which he continues to develop in collaboration with researchers from University of Geneva. “This software is particularly suitable for this type of simulation,” says the physicist.