Solar Flare Pulses At Sun And Earth Detected

When our Sun erupts with giant explosions — such as bursts of radiation called solar flares — we know they can affect space throughout the solar system as well as near Earth. But monitoring their effects requires having observatories in many places with many perspectives, much the way weather sensors all over Earth can help us monitor what’s happening with a terrestrial storm.

By using multiple observatories, two recent studies show how solar flares exhibit pulses or oscillations in the amount of energy being sent out. Such research provides new insights on the origins of these massive solar flares as well as the space weather they produce, which is key information as humans and robotic missions venture out into the solar system, farther and farther from home.

The first study spotted oscillations during a flare — unexpectedly — in measurements of the Sun’s total output of extreme ultraviolet energy, a type of light invisible to human eyes. On Feb. 15, 2011, the Sun emitted an X-class solar flare, the most powerful kind of these intense bursts of radiation. Because scientists had multiple instruments observing the event, they were able to track oscillations in the flare’s radiation, happening simultaneously in several different sets of observations.

“Any type of oscillation on the Sun can tell us a lot about the environment the oscillations are taking place in, or about the physical mechanism responsible for driving changes in emission,” said Ryan Milligan, lead author of this first study and solar physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the University of Glasgow in Scotland. In this case, the regular pulses of extreme ultraviolet light indicated disturbances — akin to earthquakes — were rippling through the chromosphere, the base of the Sun’s outer atmosphere, during the flare.

What surprised Milligan about the oscillations was the fact that they were first observed in extreme ultraviolet data from NOAA’s GOES — short for Geostationary Operation Environmental Satellite, which resides in near-Earth space. The mission studies the Sun from Earth’s perspective, collecting X-ray and extreme ultraviolet irradiance data — the total amount of the Sun’s energy that reaches Earth’s atmosphere over time.

This wasn’t a typical data set for Milligan. While GOES helps monitor the effects of solar eruptions in Earth’s space environment — known collectively as space weather — the satellite wasn’t initially designed to detect fine details like these oscillations.

When studying solar flares, Milligan more commonly uses high-resolution data on a specific active region in the Sun’s atmosphere to study the physical processes underlying flares. This is often necessary in order to zoom in on events in a particular area — otherwise they can easily be lost against the backdrop of the Sun’s constant, intense radiation.

“Flares themselves are very localized, so for the oscillations to be detected above the background noise of the Sun’s regular emissions and show up in the irradiance data was very striking,” Milligan said.

There have been previous reports of oscillations in GOES X-ray data coming from the Sun’s upper atmosphere, called the corona, during solar flares. What’s unique in this case is that the pulses were observed in extreme ultraviolet emission at frequencies that show they originated lower, in the chromosphere, providing more information about how a flare’s energy travels throughout through the Sun’s atmosphere.

To be sure the oscillations were real, Milligan and his colleagues checked corresponding data from other Sun-observing instruments on board NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory or SDO, for short: one that also collects extreme ultraviolet irradiance data and another that images the corona in different wavelengths of light. They found the exact same pulses in those data sets, confirming they were a phenomenon with its source at the Sun. Their findings are summarized in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on Oct. 9, 2017.

These oscillations interest the scientists because they may be the result of a mechanism by which flares emit energy into space — a process we don’t yet fully understand. Additionally, the fact that the oscillations appeared in data sets typically used to monitor larger space patterns suggests they could play a role in driving space weather effects.

In the second study, scientists investigated a connection between solar flares and activity in Earth’s atmosphere. The team discovered that pulses in the electrified layer of the atmosphere — called the ionosphere — mirrored X-ray oscillations during a July 24, 2016, C-class flare. C-class flares are of mid-to-low intensity, and about 100 times weaker than X-flares.

Stretching from roughly 30 to 600 miles above Earth’s surface, the ionosphere is an ever-changing region of the atmosphere that reacts to changes from both Earth below and space above. It swells in response to incoming solar radiation, which ionizes atmospheric gases, and relaxes at night as the charged particles gradually recombine.

In particular, the team of scientists — led by Laura Hayes, a solar physicist who splits her time between NASA Goddard and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and her thesis adviser Peter Gallagher — looked at how the lowest layer of the ionosphere, called the D-region, responded to pulsations in a solar flare.

“This is the region of the ionosphere that affects high-frequency communications and navigation signals,” Hayes said. “Signals travel through the D-region, and changes in the electron density affect whether the signal is absorbed, or degraded.”

The scientists used data from very low frequency, or VLF, radio signals to probe the flare’s effects on the D-region. These were standard communication signals transmitted from Maine and received in Ireland. The denser the ionosphere, the more likely these signals are to run into charged particles along their way from a signal transmitter to its receiver. By monitoring how the VLF signals propagate from one end to the other, scientists can map out changes in electron density.

Pooling together the VLF data and X-ray and extreme ultraviolet observations from GOES and SDO, the team found the D-region’s electron density was pulsing in concert with X-ray pulses on the Sun. They published their results in the Journal of Geophysical Research on Oct. 17, 2017.

“X-rays impinge on the ionosphere and because the amount of X-ray radiation coming in is changing, the amount of ionization in the ionosphere changes too,” said Jack Ireland, a co-author on both studies and Goddard solar physicist. “We’ve seen X-ray oscillations before, but the oscillating ionosphere response hasn’t been detected in the past.”

Hayes and her colleagues used a model to determine just how much the electron density changed during the flare. In response to incoming radiation, they found the density increased as much as 100 times in just 20 minutes during the pulses — an exciting observation for the scientists who didn’t expect oscillating signals in a flare would have such a noticeable effect in the ionosphere. With further study, the team hopes to understand how the ionosphere responds to X-ray oscillations at different timescales, and whether other solar flares induce this response.

“This is an exciting result, showing Earth’s atmosphere is more closely linked to solar X-ray variability than previously thought,” Hayes said. “Now we plan to further explore this dynamic relationship between the Sun and Earth’s atmosphere.”

Both of these studies took advantage of the fact that we are increasingly able to track solar activity and space weather from a number of vantage points. Understanding the space weather that affects us at Earth requires understanding a dynamic system that stretches from the Sun all the way to our upper atmosphere — a system that can only be understood by tapping into a wide range of missions scattered throughout space.

BREAKING NEWS: Amazing New Evidence Details a Far More Intricate Relation Between Galactic Cosmic Rays, Solar Weather and Terrestrial (Earth) Weather

Before I launch into this new amazing news, most of which affirms Science Of Cycles research, I need to give notice of a snafu which occurred on my server holding back your emails to me, and just at the time I requested your feedback on my prediction record as regards to the Aug. 2017 full solar eclipse.

I really would like your feedback on the outcomes which occurred during the 24+ day window and its associated cause i.e. generated gravity wave, sudden cooling and warming of weather, and the related shift in the jet stream and ocean current. Last but not least, the flux of charged particles in the way of galactic cosmic rays and its effect on the human brain and emotions.  To respond, send an email to mitch@scienceofcycles.com

I also wish to thank those who sent in a donation which added to about $300.00, it provided some relief, but covered about 1/4 of what’s needed. If you can add to this much needed fund raiser, please go to one of the banners below.

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BREAKING NEWS: Three Powerful Published Research Study’s Play a Large Role in Terrestrial (Earth) Weather, Space Weather, and Galactic Cycles

Evidence for a Time Lag in Solar Modulation of Galactic Cosmic Rays

The solar modulation effect of cosmic rays in the heliosphere is an and particle dependent phenomenon that arises from a combination of basic particle transport processes such as diffusion, convection, adiabatic cooling, and drift motion.

Making use of a large collection of time-resolved cosmic-ray data from recent space missions, we construct a simple predictive model of solar modulation that depends on direct solar-physics inputs: the number of solar sunspots and the tilt angle of the heliospheric current sheet.

Under this framework, we present calculations of cosmic-ray proton spectra, positron/electron and antiproton/proton ratios, and their time dependence in connection with the evolving solar activity.

We report evidence for a time lag of approximately eight months, between solar-activity data and cosmic-ray flux measurements in space, which reflects the dynamics of the formation of the modulation region. This result enables us to forecast the cosmic-ray flux near Earth well in advance by monitoring solar activity.

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New Discovery: Cosmic Ray Flux Caused by Tidal Disruption Events

Tidal Disruption Events (TDEs) are processes where stars are torn apart by the strong gravitational force near to a massive or supermassive black hole. If a jet is launched in such a process, particle acceleration may take place in internal shocks. Daniel Biehl, Department of Physics, Arizona State University and co-author Denise Boncioli, Dept. of Physics, University of Rome Tor Vergata published their paper in the journal American Physical Society.

We demonstrate that jetted TDEs can simultaneously describe the observed neutrino and cosmic ray fluxes at the highest energies if stars with heavier compositions, such as carbon-oxygen white dwarfs, are tidally disrupted and these events are sufficiently abundant.

We simulate the photo-hadronic interactions both in the TDE jet and in the propagation through the extragalactic space and we show that the simultaneous description of Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Ray (UHECR) and PeV neutrino data implies that a nuclear cascade in the jet develops by photo-hadronic interactions.

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NEW: Daily/Monthly Variation of Cosmic Ray Intensity

The solar modulation of Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) is revealed in the record of neutron monitors in terms of daily variation. Both day-to-day and long-term daily variations have been investigated for the period from 1965 to 2015. This was done simultaneously along with geomagnetic disruption as measured in the Ap Index over a twelve month period which was averaged independently and collectively on per month basis.

Here the Ap index was used as a placeholder for solar flux on interplanetary disturbances. It was discovered that on an average basis, the diurnal (daily) amplitude of cosmic rays is considerably lower in the years of high Ap values. During periods of low solar flux, the average daily amplitude of cosmic rays was high through the period 1965 to 2015.

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Be a part of Science Of Cycles Multi-Disaster Relief Initiative. Lets come together and help those who need a helping hand. Notice I did not specify a hurricane name, why? Because there is more than Harvey and Irma heading our way. The banner is set up for you to be able to place any amount you wish.   Cheers, Mitch

 

 

Powerful 7.3 Magnitude Quake Hits Iran-Iraq Border

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake which struck the Iraq-Iran border has killed dozens of people on the Iranian side and injured hundreds more, according to state media. The US Geological Survey (USGS) said Sunday’s powerful quake hit close to Halabjah, southeast of Sulaymaniyah, a city in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

The tremor, which was felt as far away as Qatar, struck at 9:18pm local time (18:18) GMT. Its epicenter was at a depth of 33.9km. Iranian news agency ISNA said at least 61 people were killed and 300 injured in Kermanshah province on the Iraqi border.

Most of the victims are believed to be in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab. There were fears the death toll would rise. Earlier on Sunday, Faramarz Akbari, governor of Iran’s Qasr-e Shirin city, had told Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency that there were at least two fatalities. He also said that estimating damages is impossible due to a massive power cut.

Surprise Solar Event and Galactic Cosmic Rays Associated with Ozone Hole Fluctuation

The fast flow associated with the northern extension Coronal Hole, which crossed the central meridian on Nov 4th has now arrived to Earth. The solar wind speed has increased up to the current value of 620 km/s, and the Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field was observed mainly southward for a long period of time of more than 3 hours.

This strong southward field, concurrent with a fast solar wind produced a geomagnetic storm. NOAA reported the Kp event at level 6 and local stations at Dourbes reported K=5.  The high speed stream is expected to persist until Nov 10th and further minor to moderate geomagnetic storms are highly possible.

Ozone Fluctuation Caused by Galactic Cosmic Rays… 

Recent studies have presented evidence indicating cosmic rays, rather than solar winds play a dominant role in breaking down ozone-depleting molecules and then ozone. Cosmic rays are energy particles originating in space.

Ozone is a gas mostly concentrated in the ozone layer, a region located in the stratosphere several miles above the Earth’s surface. It absorbs almost all of the Sun’s high-frequency ultraviolet light, which is potentially damaging to life and causes such diseases as skin cancer and cataracts. The Antarctic ozone hole is larger than the size of North America.

More on Galactic Cosmic Rays Effect to Earth Coming Next…

 

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Be a part of Science Of Cycles Multi-Disaster Relief Initiative. Lets come together and help those who need a helping hand. Notice I did not specify a hurricane name, why? Because there is more than Harvey and Irma heading our way. The banner is set up for you to be able to place any amount you wish.   Cheers, Mitch

 

 

NASA Investigates Invisible Magnetic Bubbles In Outer Solar System

Space may seem empty, but it’s actually a dynamic place populated with near-invisible matter, and dominated by forces, in particular those created by magnetic fields. Magnetospheres — the magnetic fields around most planets — exist throughout our solar system. They deflect high-energy, charged particles called cosmic rays that are spewed out by the Sun or come from interstellar space. Along with atmospheres, they happen to protect the planets’ surfaces from this harmful radiation.

But not all magnetospheres are created equal: Venus and Mars do not have magnetospheres at all, while the other planets — and one moon — have ones that are surprisingly different.

NASA has launched a fleet of missions to study the planets in our solar system — many of which have sent back crucial information about magnetospheres. The twin Voyagers measured magnetic fields as they traveled out to the far reaches of the solar system, and discovered Uranus and Neptune’s magnetospheres. Other planetary missions including Galileo, Cassini and Juno, and a number of spacecraft that orbit Earth, provide observations to create a comprehensive understanding of how planets form magnetospheres, as well as how they continue to interact with the dynamic space environment around them.

Earth

Earth’s magnetosphere is created by the constantly moving molten metal inside Earth. This invisible “force field” around our planet has a general shape resembling an ice cream cone, with a rounded front and a long, trailing tail that faces away from the sun. The magnetosphere is shaped that way because of the near-constant flow of solar wind and magnetic field from the Sun-facing side.

Earth’s and other magnetospheres deflect charged particles away from the planet — but also trap energetic particles in radiation belts. Auroras are caused by particles that rain down into the atmosphere, usually not far from the magnetic poles.

It’s possible that Earth’s magnetosphere was essential for the development of conditions friendly to life, so learning about magnetospheres around other planets and moons is a big step toward determining if life could have evolved there.

Mercury

Mercury, with a substantial iron-rich core, has a magnetic field that is only about 1 percent as strong as Earth’s. It is thought that the planet’s magnetosphere is compressed by the intense solar wind, limiting its extent. The MESSENGER satellite orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015, helping us understand our tiny terrestrial neighbor.

Jupiter

After the Sun, Jupiter has by far the strongest and biggest magnetic field in our solar system — it stretches about 12 million miles from east to west, almost 15 times the width of the Sun. (Earth’s, on the other hand, could easily fit inside the Sun — except for its outstretched tail.) Jupiter does not have a molten metal core; instead, its magnetic field is created by a core of compressed liquid metallic hydrogen.

One of Jupiter’s moons, Io, has powerful volcanic activity that spews particles into Jupiter’s magnetosphere. These particles create intense radiation belts and auroras around Jupiter.

Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, also has its own magnetic field and magnetosphere — making it the only moon with one. Its weak field, nestled in Jupiter’s enormous shell, scarcely ruffles the planet’s magnetic field.

Saturn

Saturn’s huge ring system transforms the shape of its magnetosphere. That’s because oxygen and water molecules evaporating from the rings funnel particles into the space around the planet. Some of Saturn’s moons help trap these particles, pulling them out of Saturn’s magnetosphere, though those with active volcanic geysers — like Enceladus — spit out more material than they take in. NASA’s Cassini mission followed in the Voyagers’ wake, and studied Saturn’s magnetic field from orbit around the ringed planet between 2004 and 2017.

Uranus

Uranus’ magnetosphere wasn’t discovered until 1986, when data from Voyager 2’s flyby revealed weak, variable radio emissions and confirmed when Voyager 2 measured the magnetic field directly. Uranus’ magnetic field and rotation axis are out of alignment by 59 degrees, unlike Earth’s, whose magnetic field and rotation axis are nearly aligned. On top of that, the magnetic field does not go directly through the center of the planet, so the strength of the magnetic field varies dramatically across the surface. This misalignment also means that Uranus’ magnetotail — the part of the magnetosphere that trails behind the planet, away from the Sun — is twisted into a long corkscrew.

Neptune

Neptune was also visited by Voyager 2, in 1989. Its magnetosphere is offset from its rotation axis, but only by 47 degrees. Similar to Uranus, Neptune’s magnetic field strength varies across the planet. This means that auroras can appear across the planet — not just close to the poles, like on Earth, Jupiter and Saturn.

And beyond

Outside of our solar system, auroras, which indicate the presence of a magnetosphere, have been spotted on brown dwarfs — objects that are bigger than planets but smaller than stars. There’s also evidence to suggest that some giant exoplanets have magnetospheres, but we have yet to see conclusive proof. As scientists learn more about the magnetospheres of planets in our solar system, it can help us one day identify magnetospheres around more distant planets as well.

Magnitude 7.0 Undersea Quake Hits Near New Caledonia, No Tsunami Trigger

A major undersea earthquake of magnitude 7.0 struck close to New Caledonia in the South Pacific on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake, which was at a shallow depth of 9.3 miles (15 km)below the seabed, did not trigger a tsunami, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii and the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre.

The epicenter was located 73 miles (117.48 km) east of the town of Tadine, on the Loyalty Islands, part of France’s New Caledonia territory.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

A spokesman for the government in Noumea, the New Caledonia capital, and staff of two hotels contacted by Reuters said they did not feel the quake.

Sloshing Of Earth’s Core May Spike Major Earthquakes

The world doesn’t stop spinning. But every so often, it slows down. For decades, scientists have charted tiny fluctuations in the length of Earth’s day: Gain a millisecond here, lose a millisecond there. Last week at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America here, two geophysicists argued that these minute changes could be enough to influence the timing of major earthquakes—and potentially help forecast them.

During the past 100 years, Earth’s slowdowns have correlated surprisingly well with periods with a global increase in magnitude-7 and larger earthquakes, according to Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick at the University of Montana in Missoula. Usefully, the spike, which adds two to five more quakes than typical, happens well after the slow-down begins. “The Earth offers us a 5-years heads up on future earthquakes, which is remarkable,” says Bilham, who presented the work.

Most seismologists agree that earthquake prediction is a minefield. And so far, Bilham and Bendick have only fuzzy, hard-to-test ideas about what might cause the pattern they found. But the finding is too provocative to ignore, other researchers say. “The correlation they’ve found is remarkable, and deserves investigation,” says Peter Molnar, a geologist also at CU.

The research started as a search for synchrony in earthquake timing. Individual oscillators, be they fireflies, heart muscles, or metronomes, can end up vibrating in synchrony as a result of some kind of cross-talk—or some common influence. To Bendick, it didn’t seem a far jump to consider the faults that cause earthquakes, with their cyclical buildup of strain and violent discharge, as “really noisy, really crummy oscillators,” she says. She and Bilham dove into the data, using the only complete earthquake catalog for the past 100 years: magnitude-7 and larger earthquakes.

In work published in August in Geophysical Research Letters they reported two patterns: First, major quakes appeared to cluster in time—although not in space. And second, the number of large earthquakes seemed to peak at 32-year intervals. The earthquakes could be somehow talking to each other, or an external force could be nudging the earth into rupture.

Exploring such global forces, the researchers eventually discovered the match with the length of day. Although weather patterns such as El Nino can drive day length to vary back and forth by a millisecond over a year or more, a periodic, decades-long fluctuation of several milliseconds—in particular, its point of peak slow down about every three decades or so—lined up with the quake trend perfectly. “Of course that seems sort of crazy,” Bendick says. But maybe it isn’t. When day length changes over decades, Earth’s magnetic field also develops a temporary ripple. Researchers think slight changes in the flow of the molten iron of the outer core may be responsible for both effects. Just what happens is uncertain—perhaps a bit of the molten outer core sticks to the mantle above. That might change the flow of the liquid metal, altering the magnetic field, and transfer enough momentum between the mantle and the core to affect day length.

Seismologists aren’t used to thinking about the planet’s core, buried 2900 kilometers beneath the crust where quakes happen. But they should, Bilham said during his talk here. The core is “quite close to us. It’s closer than New York from here,” he said.

At the equator, Earth spins 460 meters per second. Given this high velocity, it’s not absurd to think that a slight mismatch in speed between the solid crust and mantle and the liquid core could translate into a force somehow nudging quakes into synchrony, Molnar says. Of course, he adds, “It might be nonsense.” But the evidence for some kind of link is compelling, says geophysicist Michael Manga of the University of California, Berkeley. “I’ve worked on earthquakes triggered by seasonal variation, melting snow. His correlation is much better than what I’m used to seeing.”

One way or another, says James Dolan, a geologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, “we’re going to know in 5 years.” That’s because Earth’s rotation began a periodic slow-down 4-plus years ago. Beginning next year, Earth should expect five more major earthquakes a year than average—between 17 to 20 quakes, compared with the anomalously low four so far this year. If the pattern holds, it will put a new spin on earthquake forecasting.