Articles Tagged "Solar News"

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Northern Lights Still Rare due to Ongoing Solar Minimum by Angela Wang
Thursday, September 30th 2010, 4:51 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)

The Northern Lights are at their lowest period of activity for the last 100 years, according to a Finnish Meteorological Institute study released on Tuesday.

The colourful light display, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is caused by photons emitted when solar winds hit the Earth’s atmosphere, and usually appears in the night sky.

The Northern Lights tend to follow an 11-year “solar cycle”, with the last solar minimum in 2008. But scientists have observed that solar activity and hence the appearance of the phenomenon remain at a minimum.

Researcher Noora Partamies said the solar minimum seems to be continuing, according to AFP.
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NASA Study Acknowledges Solar Cycle, Not Man, Responsible for Past Warming
Friday, June 5th 2009, 3:12 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Image AttachmentSolar activity has shown a major spike in the twentieth century, corresponding to global warming. This cyclic variation was acknowledged by a recent NASA study, which reviewed a great deal of past climate data. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Report indicates solar cycle has been impacting Earth since the Industrial Revolution

Some researchers believe that the solar cycle influences global climate changes. They attribute recent warming trends to cyclic variation. Skeptics, though, argue that there's little hard evidence of a solar hand in recent climate changes.

Now, a new research report from a surprising source may help to lay this skepticism to rest. A study from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland looking at climate data over the past century has concluded that solar variation has made a significant impact on the Earth's climate. The report concludes that evidence for climate changes based on solar radiation can be traced back as far as the Industrial Revolution.
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Magnetic flows cause sunspot lows, study shows by Ron Cowen,
Friday, March 12th 2010, 2:18 AM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Satellite observations could improve forecasts of future solar cycles

Newly reported observations of gas flows on the solar surface may explain why the sun recently had such an extended case of the doldrums.

From 2008 through the first half of 2009, the sun had a puzzling dearth of sunspots, flares and other storms, extending the usual lull at the end of the 11-year solar activity cycle for an extra 15 months. Findings from the study, which relied on the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, may also suggest a better way to forecast the intensity and duration of future solar cycles.

Better predictions could be critical because some solar outbursts can blast Earth with massive, magnetized clouds of charged particles capable of knocking out electrical power grids and harming communications satellites.

In the March 12 Science, David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and Lisa Rightmire of the University of Memphis in Tennessee analyzed 13 years of SOHO measurements that tracked the movement of ionized gas from the solar equator to the poles. The researchers found that the relatively slow gas movement, known as the meridional flow, sped up a few years before the last solar minimum began in 2008. What’s more, the flow was substantially faster than the speed at the previous solar minimum, a more typical and less extended downturn in solar activity some 11 years earlier.

Hathaway and Rightmire suggest that the faster meridional flow produced weaker magnetic fields at the sun’s poles, which extended the solar minimum.

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Interacting Sunspots Spawn Gigantic Solar Flare by Nancy Atkinson
Thursday, April 21st 2011, 3:10 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)

From a RAS press release:

The largest solar flare recorded in nearly five years was triggered by interactions between five rotating sunspots, say researchers who studied observations of the flaring region of the Sun taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory over a period of five days. The flare occurred at 1.44am on February 15,2011, when the Sun released the largest recorded solar flare since December 2006 and the first flare of the current solar cycle to be classified as the most powerful “X-class”.
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MUST READ: SPPI Monthly CO2 Report: December by Christopher Monckton, SPPI
Sunday, January 24th 2010, 2:19 AM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
article image
Upper panel: Sunspot numbers (red), for the past two months. Sunspot activity had been less than for 100 years, but is now recovering as the new solar cycle gets under way. Lower panel: Number of days without any visible sunspots during the previous solar minimum (blue) and the present solar minimum (red). During the last ~11-year solar minimum, in September/October 1996, the longest period without sunspots was 37 days, compared with 44 days in March/April 2009 and 51 days in July/August 2009. Source: Jan Alvestad, January 2010.

Click source to download PDF file to read FULL report by Christopher Monckton
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First Views of the Entire Sun by Kelly Whitt
Tuesday, February 8th 2011, 3:03 AM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
The STEREO spacecraft has made 360 degree images of the sun for the first time in history, allowing improved for space weather forecasts.

NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) consists of two spacecraft that are now in place, orbiting the sun and beaming back more solar information than ever before.

First View of the Entire Sun

On Sunday, February 6, 2011, the STEREO spacecraft released the first ever complete view of the sun's entire atmosphere and surface. The two craft lie 180 degrees away from each other and image half of the sun, creating videos of the sun in its entirety. The spacecraft were launched in 2006 and have been moving into position ever since.

Even though STEREO is now positioned on opposite sides of the sun, they will continue in their orbit until they cross each other and then change positions. When they cross each other, they will be on the opposite side of the sun from Earth, still allowing a complete view from STEREO and from other Earth-based observatories. For the next 8 years, the spacecraft will be able to show scientists a larger picture of the sun.
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Major Solar Flare Erupts, May Make Auroras Visible in Northern Tariq Malik
Thursday, March 10th 2011, 4:27 PM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
article image
The sun unleashed another major solar flare Wednesday, a solar storm so powerful it could spawn dazzling northern lights displays that could be visible from even New York City.

The solar flare erupted at 6:23 p.m. EST (2323 GMT), letting loose a wave of charged particles that is aimed straight at Earth and should arrive in the next few days.

When it does, it could supercharge the Earth's aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights -- when the particles interact with the planet's magnetic field and atmosphere. [Photos: Dazzling Auroras Seen by Northern Observers]
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The ‘Baby Grand’ has arrived
Thursday, May 28th 2009, 10:40 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Image Attachment
No we aren’t talking pianos, but Grand Solar Minimums. Today a new milestone was reached. As you can see below, we’ve been leading up to it for a few years.

(Update: based on comments, I’ve updated the graph above to show the 2004 solar max by sliding the view window to the left a bit compared to the previous graph. – Anthony)

A typical solar minimum lasts 485 days, based on an average of the last 10 solar minima. As of today we are at 638 spotless days in the current minimum. Also as of today, May 27th, 2009, there were no sunspots on 120 of this year’s (2009) 147 days to date (82%).
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Earth's Magnetic Field Ramps Up Speedy Space Particles
Wednesday, February 2nd 2011, 1:47 AM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Image AttachmentArtist's rendition of magnetic reconnection triggering substorm onset, as captured by NASA/THEMIS spacecraft.
Walt Feimer NASA/GSFC.

A flotilla of NASA probes has tracked the origin of speedy particles in Earth's atmosphere and confirmed that, after they are spawned by "substorms" in Earth's magnetic field, they gain energy as they rocket toward Earth.

Substorms are powerful energy bursts that give rise to many electrons, which themselves supercharge the northern lights, or aurora borealis. Observations by NASA's five THEMIS spacecraft, designed to study substorms, showed that these particles get ramped up by the changing magnetic fields they cross following the initial burst. [Video: Cause of Auroras Animated]

Understanding the source of such particles and how they move is crucial to gaining a better knowledge of space weather around our planet, which can affect satellite communications and endanger the health of astronauts, researchers said.

"The origin of fast electrons in substorms has been a puzzle," lead author Maha Ashour-Abdalla of UCLA said in a statement. "It hasn't been clear until now if they got their burst of speed in the middle of the storm or from some place further away."
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Sun Run of 41 Days Without a Spot Now Among the Top 10 Longest by Joseph D’Aleo (IceCap.US)
Friday, August 21st 2009, 9:14 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Image AttachmentToday, Thursday, August 20th marked the 41st straight day without a sunspot, one of the longest stretches this solar minimum.

In fact it rises into 10th place among all spotless periods since 1849 (first table here). The total number of spotless days this transition from cycle 23 to 24 is now 694 rapidly approaching the approximate number leading into cycle 15 in the early 1900s (below, enlarged here).
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