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After 1700, roughly coincident with Comet Sarabat of 1729, auroral activity and sunspots began to increase. Prior to 1700, the activity was very low, except for the sunspot group numbers around 1600-1650. Are the high sunspot group numbers around 1600-1650 really that high? They are reconstructed from historical sources, and coincide with the initial observation of sunspots in Galileo's time. Is the height the result of "overreporting" novel phenomena? Auroral activity did NOT show such high numbers around 1600-1650. It appears that the overall trend of activity has been increasing since 1700, and that the 11-year cycles are only variations within a 300-year trend of increasing activity. The 11-year cycles were there, but at a much lower level,
prior to 1700 (see Zirin, Astrophysics of the Sun, Cambridge 1988).
The size of sunspots also seems to follow the 11-year cycle of the number of sunspots. According to a 21 September 2000 article by Maia Weinstock on space.com:
"... The largest sunspot this century was recorded in 1947. That mega-sunspot covered an amazing 6,132 millionths of the visible solar area. ...". There were two other sunspots that covered around 5,000 milllionths of the solar disk: one in 1946 (the year after fission bombs were dropped on Japan) and one in 1951 (the year that fusion bombs were first exploded). A sunspot around 3,500 millionths of the solar disk was associated with the 13 March 1989 Solar Flare.
As Richard Hoagland notes in his web pages, Jupiter has a 3x4 = 12 year sidereal period and Saturn has a 7x4 = 28 year sidereal period, so that they are in line with the Sun (on the same side of the Sun) every 7x3 = 21 years, which is the period of the Solar Magnetic Cycle. At mid-cycle, 10.5 years after its beginning they are on opposite sides of the Sun. The period between Jupiter and Saturn being in line on the same side of the Sun (0 degrees apart) and being in line on the opposite side (180 degrees apart) is 10.5 years, roughly the Sunspot Cycle.
Although I do not agree with everything on Richard Hoagland's web pages, I do think that everything there is thought-provoking. As with all web pages, including mine, readers should think about the material and make up their own minds as to which parts of the material they think are substantially correct, which parts are not proven one way or the other, and which parts are substantially incorrect.
Could it be related to the recently (since the 1960s) observed deficit of solar neutrinos? The solar neutrino flux has been found to track the 11-year cycles:
(see New Scientist 2 July 1994, p. 14) Since the solar neutrino flux comes from nuclear reactions in the interior of the sun, perhaps the overall increase in sunspot activity is linked to an overall decrease in nuclear reaction rates in the solar interior. If so, the deficit in solar neutrinos from the production rate that would be needed to keep the sun in a steady state may be a sign that since 1700 the sun has been in a state of change - cooling down with less nuclear reactions and less neutrino production. If the sun IS changing, HOW will it change in the near future?
Will the sun become much more variable? If the sun DOES vary a lot, can we build a model for its behavior? Will such a model involve nonlinear chaotic dynamics, as in Low Dimensional Dynamics in a Pulsating Star, by Mindlin, Boyd, Caminos, and Nunez? What would be necessary to modify the evolution of a variable sun?
That region roughly coincides with the the gravitational lens focal length of the Sun, about 540 AU, and the possible source region of Gamma Ray Bursts.
Beyond the Heliosphere, the Sun lies in a Local Bubble,
which is roughly elliptical in shape and whose size is on the order of about 300 light years across its short axis and 1,000 light years across (1 light year = 63,240 AU). The Local Bubble could have been created by the Geminga Supernova about 340,000 years ago, at which time it was about 300 light years from Earth. (See Kaufmann, Astronomy (4th ed), Freeman 1994.)
The Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion (M2P2) Space Propulsion program
of R. M. Winglee, J. Slough, and T. Ziemba of the University of Washington, couples to the solar wind through a large scale magnetic bubble or mini-magnetosphere generated by the injection of plasma into the magnetic field supported by solenoid coils on the spacecraft. This inflation is driven by electromagnetic processes so that the material and deployment problems associated with conventional solar sails are eliminated.The M2P2 creates an electromagnetic bubble or mini-magnetosphere around the spacecraft.
The magnetic field will be sustained by a solenoid coil, and the size of the accompanying magnetic bubble will be greatly increased as plasma is injected into it. A computer simulation of the inflated`mini-magnetosphere' is shown in this image from the M2P2 program:
The M2P2 system can also be undertood through the plasma currents that it generates, as shown in this image from the M2P2 program:
According to Space Science News, on 6 June 2000 (3 Sivan 5760) "... the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recorded a powerful series of solar eruptions including a full-halo coronal mass ejection (CME). ...
The CME should reach Earth ... around midday on Thursday, June 8 ( 5 Sivan 5760 - Erev Shavuot ) .
... The June 6, 2000, coronal mass ejection was accompanied by two of the most intense solar flares since a brilliant eruption in February 2000. ...
On June 6, 2000 (3 Sivan 5760), two solar flares from active region 9026 registered as powerful X-class eruptions ...". Compare the size of phenomena of recently-formed stars.
According to the SEC Auroral web page and the movies linked from it, Auroral Activity was strong in the Pacific / North Asia region from about 0945 UT to about 1947 UT on 8 June 2000, which included the sundown beginning of Shavuot (6 Sivan 5760):
According to an SEC web page, the "... auroral activity index ... ranges from 1 to 10 ..." and a 10 has Total Power Dissipation in excess of 96 Gigawatts. The auroral activity continued over the next few days, hitting level 10 again on 11 June 2000 (9 Sivan 5760).
According to a 10 December 2001 Space.com article by Robert Roy Britt:
"... observations ... made over Earth's north polar region Jan. 14, 2001 ...[by]... Cluster satellites ... named Tango, Salsa, Samba and Rumba ... orbit[ing] Earth at different altitudes, ranging from 124 miles (200 kilometers) to 11,600 miles (19,000 kilometers) up... have together stumbled on ... a spike of energy that shot into space high above Earth ...
... Aurora are generated in a near-vacuum ... Electrons flung earthward by the Sun strike a few atoms in the planet's very thin upper atmosphere. The atoms are excited and give off light. ... A study of the Cluster data, led by Goran Marklund of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, found that an upward-moving beam of electrons grew and then vanished within a period of time that lasted just over 3 minutes. ... The electrons spotted by Cluster were evacuated into space, the researchers say, leaving a hole in the ionosphere.
Marklund and his colleagues suggest that the electron beam allowed a corresponding downward beam to develop, which led to visible aurora. ...". [ To me, this seems like a rip tide current flowing away from an ocean beach. ]
On 5 February 2000 the Chinese New Year of the Metal Dragon began with the fireworks of an X-Class Solar Flare. According to Space Science News, "... a major solar flare erupted on the northeast limb of the Sun at 1928 UT on February 5. ... it was one of the largest and brightest optical flares of the current solar cycle. ... [It] erupted ... from a relatively small sunspot group.... The eruption was bright across the electromagnetic spectrum. It registered the maximum rating of "B" (for brilliant) on the 3-level scale of optical intensity for solar flares. At X-ray wavelengths the Earth-orbiting GOES 8 satellite also detected a bright surge that put the flare in the most powerful X-class. Large flares like this one can emit up to 10^32 ergs of energy. This energy is ten million times greater than the energy released from a volcanic explosion. On the other hand, it is less than one-tenth of the total energy emitted by the Sun every second. ...
... This image of the Sun was taken through a red "H-alpha" filter at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The bright spot closest to the upper left corner is the solar flare. ...".
According to a 15 February 2001 article on science.msfc.nasa.gov: "... The Sun's magnetic north pole, which was in the northern hemisphere just a few months ago, now points south. ...
... The Sun's magnetic poles will remain as they are now, with the north magnetic pole pointing through the Sun's southern hemisphere, until the year 2012 when they will reverse again. This transition happens, as far as we know, at the peak of every 11-year sunspot cycle ...... Because the Sun rotates (once every 27 days) solar magnetic fields corkscrew outwards in the shape of an Archimedian spiral. Far above the poles the magnetic fields twist around like a child's Slinky toy. ... Sunspots are sources of intense magnetic knots that spiral outwards even as the dipole field vanishes. The heliosphere doesn't simply wink out of existence when the poles flip -- there are plenty of complex magnetic structures to fill the void. ...".
According to an article in spaceweather.com: "... On March 28, 2001, active region AR9393 became the biggest sunspot since 1991. Astronomers measure the sizes of sunspots as fractions of the Sun's visible area. Their favorite units are "millionth's." A sunspot that registers 1 millionth has a surface area equal to 0.000001 times the area of the Sun's Earth-facing hemisphere. Typically, a big sunspot measures 300 to 500 millionths. The entire surface area of the Earth is only 169 millionths of the solar disk. This week's whopper, AR9393, registered 2400 millionths on March 29, 2001 (14 times larger than Earth), surpassing last year's sunspot AR9169 as the largest of the current solar cycle. AR9169 reached 2140 millionths on Sept. 20, 2000. The plot below -
- based on data provided by Dr. David Hathaway, a solar physicist at the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center -- shows the size of the biggest individual spots in each year between 1900 and 2000. Notable spots include the Great Sunspot of 1947, which was three times larger than AR9393, and a large sunspot in March 1989 that triggered an historic geomagnetic storm. ...".
According to a 3 April 2001 news article by Alan M. MacRobert in Sky and Telescope: "... Within days ... Active Region 9393 grew to become the biggest mass of spots to mark the Sun's face in ten years. [BBC web article 30 March 2001
by David Whitehouse, Soho photo]
And it has been dazzling not only solar observers by day but, indirectly, millions of people around the world at night &emdash; by the dramatic auroral displays it has spawned, perhaps the best of the current solar cycle. The spot group is a huge, knotted-up magnetic disturbance that grew to be as long as 22 times the diameter of the Earth. It has been popping off with powerful flares and coronal mass ejections as its tangled magnetic fields interconnect and short-circuit. The flares have irradiated satellites and Earth's upper atmosphere with X-rays and high-speed protons. The coronal mass ejections have buffeted Earth's magnetosphere with massive gusts of ionized solar wind. A geomagnetic storm lasting more than 24 hours on March 30 - 31 produced a grand, blood-red display of northern lights [BBC web article 2 April 2001
by David Whitehouse, Idaho AP photo]
that reached as far south as southern California, Texas, and the Carolinas ... The great March 30th aurora as seen from an appropriately named street in North Carolina.
Fish-eye lens photo by Johnny Horne. ... much of the rest of the country was clouded out ...
In the Southern Hemisphere, the corresponding display of southern lights [BBC web article 2 April 2001
by David Whitehouse, photo from Chris Petrich]
delighted skywatchers in New Zealand and elsewhere. ...".
According to a BBC web article 4 April 2001 by David Whitehouse: "... the Sun has unleashed one of the largest flares on record [Soho photo] -
but fortunately, astronomers say, the Earth is not in the line of fire. ... The flare, a titanic explosion just above the solar surface, occurred near the Sun's north-west limb in the region of the giant sunspot group Noaa 9393 that has been such a dramatic sight in the past week. Noaa 9393 is being carried out of sight by the Sun's rotation. This means that the vast cloud of charged particles the flare threw into space will not collide with the Earth causing auroral light shows and radio blackouts. The flare was classified as a major event and was more powerful than the one in March 1989 that shut down a Canadian electrical power grid causing six million people to lose power for nine hours. ... radiation from the flare did temporarily disrupt radio communications. A storm of protons 10,000 times greater than usual was created and this swept past the Earth. ... "This explosion was estimated as an X-20 flare, and was as strong as the record X-20 flare on 16 August, 1989," said ... Dr Paul Brekke, project scientist for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho) .... The flare was the most powerful since regular X-ray data from the Sun became available in 1976. "It was more powerful that the famous 6 March, 1989, flare which was related to the disruption of the power grids in Canada." ...".
On 13 March 1989, the voltage of Quebec's power grid began to fluctuate alarmingly. Seconds later, the lights went out across the entire province. Some 6 million people were without electricity for nine hours. Within two days, NASA had lost track of some of its spacecraft and the northern lights were glowing in the sky south of London. As described in the 3 February 1996 issue of The New Scientist, these events had the same cause - a monumental Solar Storm, the fiercest for 30 years. Its Auroral display over the Eastern USA
is shown in this image taken around 04:00 Universal Time on 14 March 1989 by the Department of Defense F9 meteorology satellite, from figure 1.17 of Physics of the Plasma Universe, by Anthony L. Peratt (Springer-Verlag 1992).
Rarely has the power of a solar flare been more dramatically displayed than in early March 1989. Over a period of ten days, a series of violent flares unleashed a combined shower of radiation, energized particles, and magnetism that knocked out electricity all across the province of Quebec, rendered normal radio frequencies unusable, and draped the night skies of the Northern Hemisphere with a crimson aurora borealis that could be seen as far south as Key West, Florida.
On March 13, 1989, for example, a radio amateur in Rhode Island was able to contact a second operator in England using the VHF band of 50 megahertz.
As the flares' extreme-ultraviolet flux heated and expanded Earth's upper atmosphere, the increased atmospheric drag reduced the orbital energy of hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit. This knocked the spacecraft into lower and faster orbits, causing ground controllers to temporarily lose contact with them. Meanwhile, many of the 7,000 orbiting objecs that are tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network were lost from view.
The 13 March 1989 Solar Storm caused an increase in high frequency fluctuations in surface atmospheric pressure, according to chao-dyn/9807008 by Selvam, Fadnavis, Athale and Tinmaker, who say: "... Observational studies indicate that there is a close association between geomagnetic storm and meteorological parameters. Geomagnetic field lines follow closely the isobars of surface pressure (J.W.King, 1975 Aeronautics and Astronautics 13(4), 10 ). A Physical mechanism linking upper atmospheric geomagnetic storm disturbances with tropospheric weather has been proposed by sikka et. al.(1987 Adv. Atmos. Sci. 5(2), 217) where it is postulated that vertical mixing by turbulent eddy fluctuations results in the net transport upward of positive charges originating from lower levels accompanied simultaneously by downward flow of negative charges from higher levels.
A series of exceptional solar flares in March 1989, widely reported at the time, had extensive effects on the Earth's ionosphere according to three papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research. These effects included the rapid upwards drift of plasma, the strong depletion of ionosphereic density at low latitudes, (a sort of equatorial ionospheric 'hole') and the creation of wavelike oscillations. These reports are among the first detailing the influence of the most recent maximum in solar activity, the March 1989 events in particular.
The effects of the solar activity on the ionosphere are but an example of the influence of solar activity on the Earth and its environment. A spectacular series of solar X-ray flares was produced by a large, complex sunspot group during the period 6-19 March 1989, causing numerous effects at the Earth which remind us that the Sun's influence on us extends far beyond the radiation that lights our way and warms us. The energetic particles escaping from the active Sun can disrupt communications, upset the routine activities of spacecraft in geostationary orbit, cause crippling power failures, and result in brilliant auroral displays at latitudes much lower than normal.
The March flares produced the "great" magnetic storm of 13-14 March 1989 which, in turn, resulted in many of the manifestations which affect our lives in very direct lways. The exact manner in which solar activity affects the magnetic and plasma environment of the Earth is a matter of considerable research. Nevertheless, some general ideas exist for some of the mechanisms. The influx of energetic solar particles results in an increased solar wind pressure at the Earth which, in turn, acts on the magnetosphere. In response to the inceased pressure and changes in the electric field due to the solar wind moving past the magnetosphere, the magnetosphere contracts causing such obvious signatures as a decrease in the latitude of the auroral zone from its quiet-time location.
Energetic particles moving Earthward from the geomagnetic tail dump their energy into the atmosphere. When they collide with the upper atmosphere, the atmospheric gases are excited and their subsequent return to a stable state results in the emission of photons which we recognize as the aurora. During active periods, not only are the auroral displays likely to be more intense, but the movement of the auroral oval to lower latitudes means large populations not accustomed to seeing the displays are provided with a rare treat. In the great storm of March 1989, aurorae were observed as far south as Mexico and the Grand Cayman Islands.
The distortion of the magnetic field induces currents in conductors. The power grids at high latitudes are especially subject to these induced currents. The 13 March storm left 6 million people in Quebec without power for up to 9 hours. Power failures occurred at the same time in Sweden.
There are numerous efects observed on Earth that exhibit an 11-year periodicity, the same as the well-known solar cyhcle (which is technically a 22-year cycle). These effects include auroral activity, magnetic storms and there are even examples of 11-year cycles in weather patterns. The March 1989 activity marked the beginning of the maximum in solar cycle 22. Extraordinary solar activity was subsequently observed in September--October 1989 and most recently in March 1991. Gorney provides a recent review of the effects of solar activity on the Earth, and summarizes several predictions about the current cycle, generally concluding that the maximum will be one of the biggest on record. Furthermore, he suggests that periods of high solar activity, like that of March 1989, can be expected for a period of up to 4-5 years. ...
Ion densities, measured during a series of equatorial passes by a military satellite, decreased dramatically at equatorial latitudes, corresponding to an equatorial 'hole' ... . The density variations at midlatitudes also show marked deviations from the normal situation. Greenspan et al. suggest that the penetration of magnetospheric electric fields and the generation of electric fields due to the disturbed motion of the circulation patterns in the thermosphere cause large upward drifts of the equatorial plasma. This then causes a poleward drift, which leaves the equatorial ionosphere depleted. As a result of these ionospheric disturbances, the ionosphere's capability to transmit or reflect radio waves is disrupted in a number of ways. The resulting communications disruptions affect military and civil operations. Batista et al. provide ground-based observations from Brazil which support the satellite observations used by Greenspan et al. These include measurements of the magnetic-field disturbances, variations in the critical frequency (maximum plasma density) of the ionosphere and the height of the critical frequency, and also the total electron content of the ionosphere. This paper discusses in some detail the role of electric fields in storm-related ionospheric disturbances. It is the penetration of the magnetospheric electric field and the disturbance-dynamo electric fields which are most important in driving the plasma drifts discussed here and with respect to the satellite observations.
Huang and Cheng summarize a number of observations made in the Republic of China of the ionospheric distrubances as manifested in magnetic disturbances, total electron content and short-wave propagation effects. Among the most interesting of these are the observations of storm-related enhancements in the nightside total electron content followed by an unusually large decrease. Subsequently, wave-like oscillations were observed simultaneously at three diferent stations, suggesting "that the whole ionosphere [was] moving up and down during this disturbed period". Of course, the ionosphere is only one part of the terrestial system that can respond to solar activity. With such exteremes of activity occurring during the currnet solar cycle, we can look forward to further reports of remarkable reactions in the magnetic field, plasma and neutral gas environment of the Earth.
Strolling outside Arizona's Kitt Peak National Observatory during a work break, staff observer Paul Avellar at first thought the angry red glow in the night sky was caused by forest fires. Then, seeing a greenish fringe and vertical streamers stretching like ribbons above the horizon, he realized what was happening. He raced to a telephone and called his wife and friends, awakening them and insisting they share the view. "A chance like this doesn't come along very often," says Avellar. "To see the northern lights is very humbling and awe-inspiring. You realize the sun is just going about its business and making our nighttime sky glow without any trouble at all. It makes you wonder what would happen if the sun ever really got mad."
Some 93 million miles away, the sun was, at the very least, agitated. In early March, an area of sunspots large enough to contain 70 earth-size planets had come into view around the eastern rim of the glowing orb. Created by intense magnetic fields and cooler than the surrounding gases, the sunspots were visible as dark blemishes on the fiery surface. Just as astronomers were turning their attention to the mottled region, a bright spot suddenly appeared in its midst. It spread like a prairie wildfire, glowing white hot on the sun's yellow face and quickly expanding to cover hundreds of thousands of square miles. The monster blotch was an unusually large solar flare, a stupendous explosion that belched radiation and billions of tons of matter far into space.
The great flare, and its coterie of sunspots, was an unmistakable signal. It heralded the imminent arrival of the solar maximum: the period every eleven years or so when the sun reaches its peak levels of activity and pointedly reminds earth dwellers of its awesome power. At maximum, the sun bombards the planet with radiation and particles, causing unusually brilliant auroras, communications blackouts and power failures. But it also gives scientists a fresh opportunity to solve some of the mysteries surrounding the star that provides the earth with energy, drives the weather and sustains life itself.
During a maximum, marked by a jump in the number of sunspots and flares, giant loops of incandescent gases, called prominences, proliferate, shooting tens of thousands of miles above the solar surface, sometimes hanging suspended for months. The solar corona, the halo around the sun visible during total eclipses, becomes fuller and brighter; great blobs of the corona, containing billions of tons of hot gas, occasionally burst free, shooting into space at speeds as high as 2 million m.p.h. And the earth's upper atmosphere, pummeled by solar particles, is laced by electrical currents of as much as a million amperes. These in turn create powerful magnetic fields that raise havoc below.
Because the previous maximum occurred in late 1979, astronomers had targeted 1991 as the year when solar frenzy would again peak. But the sun is notably capricious. While the intervals between maximums average eleven years, some have been as short as seven, others as long as 17. Ever since the sun began revving up three years ago toward the next maximum, its activity has mounted with unprecedented speed.
"It is the fastest riser on record," says Ron Moore, an astronomer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. So fast, in fact, that astronomers are betting on 1990 or perhaps even later this year, instead of 1991, as the beginning of the maximum. And what a maximum it could be. Despite the ferocity of the March flares, Moore warns, "this cycle is still in its early phase. It's got quite a way to go." Solar buffs are speculating it might approach the violence reached by the 1957-58 maximum, which touched off five disruptive geomagnetic superstorms and vivid auroral displays. Says astronomer Donald Neidig at the National Solar Observatory outpost on Sacramento Peak, near Sunspot, N. Mex.: "We can't rule out a record breaker."
In anticipation of the fireworks, astronomers scheduled a two-week, worldwide solar-observation period during the second half of June. The project was timed to benefit from the observations of the Solar Maximum Mission satellite (nicknamed Solar Max) before it plunges to its death. Lofted into earth orbit in 1980 to monitor the sun's activity, the satellite is gradually descending and will probably re-enter the earth's atmosphere in November and be incinerated. Solar Max's readings of the sun's activity were coordinated with observations made all over the world by ground-based telescopes and instruments mounted on high-flying rockets. A hundred solar centers around the globe were linked by an electronic-mail network designed to provide the latest data on the sun's behavior.
A major goal of the project was to catch a flare in the act, mapping all the solar high jinks associated with it from beginning to end. The sun's timing could not have been better. During the first week of observations, it set off several large flares and ejected billions of tons of matter in a prominence that extended more than 200,000 miles into space.
The intense solar observations should provide clues to many of the still unanswered or only partly resolved questions about the sun: Does the solar cycle affect terrestrial weather? What internal mechanisms control the cycle? Is the sun growing cooler? Hotter? Is there a basic flaw in the current theory about the fusion process that powers the solar furnace?
While the recent flares did not measure up to the March conflagration, astronomers were jubilant. "We have been exceptionally lucky," says Alan Kiplinger, a solar physicist at the University of Colorado. "It's unusual to have the sun cooperate."
Fortunately for earth dwellers, the March flare occurred on the easternmost edge of the sun and thus aimed its full force away from the earth. But on March 10, when the sun's stately rotation brought the turbulent group of sunspots to a position more directly facing the earth, a second, only slightly less powerful flare erupted in the region. Eight minutes later, traveling at the speed of light, a blast of X ray and ultraviolet radiation seared the earth's upper atmosphere. Within an hour, high-energy protons began to arrive, followed in three days by a massive bombardment of lower-energy protons and electrons.
Among the first to feel the effects of the flare's fury was the orbiting Solar Max. As the radiation saturated Solar Max's instruments, a NASA spokesman reported, "the satellite was stunned for a minute and then recovered." Heated by the incoming blast of radiation, the upper fringe of the atmosphere expanded farther into space. Low-orbiting satellites, encountering that fringe and running into increasing drag, slowed and dropped into still lower orbits. A secret Defense Department satellite began a premature and fatal tumble, and the tracking system that keeps exact tabs on some 19,000 objects in earth orbit briefly lost track of 11,000 of them. Solar Max descended by as much as half a mile in a single day, almost certainly hastening its demise.
On the earth, the flare's effects were equally disruptive. Shortwave transmissions were interrupted, some for as long as 24 hours, and satellite communication and a Coast Guard loran navigation system were temporarily overwhelmed. Powerful transient magnetic fields, generated in the upper atmosphere by the flare, induced electrical currents in transmission lines and wiring, and mystified homeowners reported automatic garage doors opening and closing on their own. A surge of flare-induced current was blamed by Hydro-Quebec officials for shutting down the power company's system and blacking out parts of Montreal and the province of Quebec for as long as nine hours. These startling phenomena were shrugged off by Sacramento Peak's Neidig. "A really big flare," he says, "can produce enough energy to supply a major city with electricity for 200 million years."
By far the most dramatic manifestation of the solar flare was the two-night, spectacular display of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, that awed Paul Avellar and millions of others. Arriving high-energy electrons, deflected by the earth's magnetic field, spilled into the upper atmosphere near the north and south polar regions, which are unprotected by magnetic-field lines. Acting much as does the electrical current in a neon sign, the electrons banged into oxygen atoms, causing them to emit red and green light.
Ordinarily far less intense and visible only in arctic climes, the glowing, flickering aurora was seen as far south as Brownsville, Texas, and Key West, Fla. Alarmed Floridians, unfamiliar with the lights and fearing that a catastrophe had occurred somewhere in the north, flooded police switchboards with calls.
The two great flares of March were not isolated events. Nine other major outbursts and hundreds of smaller ones were recorded during the two weeks it took for the sunspot region to rotate out of view. In the months since, as the sun moves erratically toward its maximum, several flares have been observed every day.
According to a NASA/GSFC press release,
- the most drastic and longest-lasting decrease ever observed. Dropping to a fraction of its normal density and to half its normal speed, the solar wind died down enough to allow physicists to observe particles flowing directly from the Sun's corona to Earth. This severe change in the solar wind also changed the shape of Earth's magnetic field and produced an unusual auroral display at the North Pole.
Starting late on May 10 and continuing through the early hours of May 12, NASA's ACE and Wind spacecraft each observed that the density of the solar wind dropped by more than 98%. Because of the decrease, energetic electrons from the Sun were able to flow to Earth in narrow beams, known as the strahl. Under normal conditions, electrons from the Sun are diluted, mixed, and redirected in interplanetary space and by Earth's magnetic field (the magnetosphere). But in May 1999, several satellites detected electrons arriving at Earth with properties similar to those of electrons in the Sun's corona, suggesting that they were a direct sample of particles from the Sun. ... Fourteen years ago, ... Dr. Jack Scudder, space physicist from the University of Iowa and principal investigator for the Hot Plasma Analyzer on NASA's Polar spacecraft ... and Dr. Don Fairfield of Goddard predicted the details of an event such as occurred on May 11, saying that it would produce an intense "polar rain" of electrons over one of the polar caps of Earth. The polar caps typically do not receive enough energetic electrons to produce visible aurora. But in an intense polar rain event, Scudder and Fairfield theorized, the "strahl" electrons would flow unimpeded along the Sun's magnetic field lines to Earth and precipitate directly into the polar caps, inside the normal auroral oval. Such a polar rain event was observed for the first time in May when Polar detected a steady glow over the North Pole in X-ray images. In parallel with the polar rain event, Earth's magnetosphere swelled to five to six times its normal size. [According to a 14 December 1999 article in The New York Times by James Glanz: "... On May 11 , the solar wind dropped to a few percent of its normal density and its speed was cut in half. ... The magnetosphere's leading edge, called the bow shock, was inflated from its usual size of about 10 times Earth's radius until it engulfed the moon, 5 or 6 times farther into space. ...". ] NASA's Wind, IMP-8, and Lunar Prospector spacecraft, the Russian INTERBALL satellite and the Japanese Geotail satellite observed the most distant bow shock ever recorded by satellites. Earth's bow shock is the shock front where the solar wind slams into the sunward edge of the magnetosphere. According to observations from the ACE spacecraft, the density of helium in the solar wind dropped to less than 0.1% of its normal value, and heavier ions, held back by the Sun's gravity, apparently could not escape from the Sun at all. Data from NASA's SAMPEX spacecraft reveal that in the wake of this event, Earth's outer electron radiation belts dissipated and were severely depleted for several months afterward. ...".
HAARP (High frequency Active Auroral Research Program), located near Gakona, Alaska, has a high power, high-frequency (HF) phased array radio transmitter (known as the Ionospheric Research Instrument, or IRI), used to stimulate small, well-defined volumes of ionosphere, and an ultra-high frequency (UHF) incoherent scatter radar (ISR), used to measure electron densities, electron and ion temperatures, and Doppler velocities in the stimulated region and in the natural ionosphere. The IRI is a phased array transmitter, to be built on a 33 acre site. It is designed to transmit a narrow beam of high power radio signals in the 2.8 to 10 MHz frequency range. 30 transmitter shelters each will contain 6 pairs of 10 kW transmitters, for a total of 6 x 30 x 2 x 10 kW = 3600 kW available for transmission.
HAARP can generate ELF (Extremely Low Frequency, on the order of a few Hz) signals by modulation of the polar electrojet, which originates in the magnetosphere, flowing near the equator side limit of the visible aurora at the altitude of the E layer (approximately 100 km), and carrying currents that often exceed a million amperes. The current is distributed within a sheet 100 km or more wide. HAARP transmissions can deposit energy into the layer carrying the electrojet currents. Under typical ionospheric conditions, this frequency would be near the lower end of the facility's 2.8 - 10 MHz operating range. The signal is caused to vary in amplitude by a low frequency modulation such that the strength of the fundamental HF signal varies in a regular (or periodic) manner. During the peaks of the transmitted signal the layer volume absorbs energy and its local conductivity decreases. During troughs in the fundamental HF signal, as the transmitted power approaches zero, the volume conductivity returns to normal and the net current in the region returns to its original value. This generates an electromagnetic signal at the modulation frequency, which can be in the ELF range, which is the range of Schumann Resonances.
Extremely Low Frequencies, in range of Schumann Resonances, can be generated from High Frequency transmitters by using Harmonics, SideBands, or Beats between narrowly separated High Frequencies.
When Antennas transmit Electromagnetic Radiation,
To get some general ideas, consider idealized simple antennas carrying harmonically varying current, with antenna length much shorter than emitted radiation, the dipole approximation for differential antennas.
The radial dependence of the electric E field from a dipole antennas has three distinct regions. For region at distance R and for wavenumber k, the three regions are:
The magnetic B field has two regions, varying as 1/R and 1/R^2.
If you take into account, not only the spherical coordinate R but also the spherical coordinate PHI (where PHI = 0 is the half-plane of the z-axis and positive x-axis) and the spherical coordinate THETA (where THETA = 0 is the positive z-axis) you see that:
The R component of the E field comes from the retarded Scalar (timelike) part of the Electromagnetic Potential. It does not contribute to Radiation, but is only in the Induction region and the Static region.
The Electromagnetic E and B fields in the Radiation region come from Vector (3-spacelike) part of the Electromagnetic Potential. Conventional radio and television broadcast uses the Radiation field in the Radiation region where E goes like 1/R. There is a corresponding region in Gravitation, the GravitoEM Radiation Region.
In the Induction region, E and B go like 1/R^2. There is a corresponding region in Gravitation, the GravitoEM Radiation Region.
GraviPhoton phenomena are also interesting.
The Static region where E goes like 1/R^3 has been used for secure communication in the local region (say a few kilometers) around ships at sea, because the Static signal far away from the ship is very small and hard to intercept. (See Nayfeh and Brussel, Electricity and Magnetism, (Wiley 1985).) There is a corresponding region in Gravitation, the GravitoEM Static Region.
A Covariant Electromagnetic Potential has four degrees of freedom, one timelike and three spacelike, so there are four types of Covariant Photons.
The other two degrees of freedom, or types of Photon, correspond to the instantaneous Coulomb interaction which is "... actually equivalent to an interaction due to the emission and subsequent absorption of a time-like Photon and a longitudinal Photon, considered together. ... one may say that the Photon always has four states of polarization regardless of whether it is virtual or real, but that whenever it is real [a free photon], the timelike Photon and the longitudinal Photon always give rise to contributions which are equal in magnitude but opposite in sign." (See Sakurai, Advanced Quantum Mechanics (Benjamin/Cummings 1967) from which the above figure is taken.)
Now consider a Navy ship using a Static region of 2 km for local communication.
As Feynman says in Space-Time Approach to Quantum Electrodynamics (Phys. Rev. 76 (1949) 769, reprinted in Selected Papers on Quantum Electrodynamics, ed. by Julian Schwinger (Dover 1958), at page 272 of Schwinger's book): "... what looks like a real process from one point of view may appear as a virtual process occurring over a more extended time ...". I think the converse is also true.
As Jack Sarfatti says, "... we may be able to track the quantum fluctuations if they are not really random in some kind of squeezed state maybe? This is where my back-action may come in ...".
My conjecture is that maybe if you could get enough of the longitudinal photons in the Static region to be coherently off the originally prevailing Minkowski light-cone, you could shift the prevailing light-cone in some part of the Static region, thus curving SpaceTime there, so that
Another application of Near Field photons is Near-field Scanning Optical Microscopy (NSOM), which has been used to achieve "... lateral resolution of the order 20 nm ..., and vertical resolution of less than 1 nm may be possible. ... Applications include mapping of the optical properties of nanostructured materials such as microcrystalline domains in electrooptic materials, structure in biological membranes, and nanometer-scale particulate or subsurface defects on optical and semiconductor surfaces. Other applications include near-field measurements of photonic devices, evaluation of latent images in photoresists, and optical data storage. ...".
William D. Walker, in physics/0001063, has shown "... that electromagnetic near-field waves and wave groups, generated by an oscillating electric dipole, propagate much faster than the speed of light as they are generated near the source, and reduce to the speed of light at about one wavelength from the source. The speed at which wave groups propagate (group speed) is shown to be the speed at which both modulated wave information and wave energy density propagate. Because of the similarity of the governing partial differential equations, two other physical systems (magnetic oscillating dipole, and gravitational radiating oscillating mass) are noted to have similar results. ...".
Ramakrishna, Pendry, Wiltshire and Stewart, in Imaging the near Field, cond-mat/0207026, say: "... In an earlier paper we introduced the concept of the perfect lens which focuses both near and far electromagnetic fields, hence attaining perfect resolution. Here we consider refinements of the original prescription designed to overcome the limitations of imperfect materials. In particular we show that a multi-layer stack of positive and negative refractive media is less sensitive to imperfections. It has the novel property of behaving like a fibre-optic bundle but one that acts on the near field, not just the radiative component. The effects of retardation are included and minimized by making the slabs thinner. Absorption then dominates image resolution in the near-field. The deleterious effects of absorption in the metal are reduced for thinner layers. ... It was Veselago in 1968 ... who first realised that negative values for ... electrical permittivity and magnetic permeability ... would result in a negative refractive index and he also pointed out that such a negative refractive material (NRM) would act as a lens ... ".
Methods of Theoretical Physics, by Morse and Feshbach (McGraw-Hill 1953), (in Part II - which is Volume II), describes Longitudinal and Transverse Fields in terms of dyadics, Green's Functions, the Helmholtz equation, LaPlace transforms, and the Wave Equations, saying:
page 1784 "... The motion of the medium ... is quite similar to a smoke ring or ring vortex ...".
page 1790: "... At short distances (R << ct) the ring vortex mentioned on page 1784 builds up steadily after t = 0, according to the function v[t - to - R/c)]. ...".
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