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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 thenumber of sunspots. According to a21 September 2000 article by Maia Weinstock on space.com:
"... The largest sunspot this century was recorded in 1947. Thatmega-sunspot covered an amazing 6,132 millionths of the visible solararea. ...". There were two other sunspots that covered around 5,000milllionths of the solar disk: one in 1946 (the year after fissionbombs were dropped on Japan) and one in 1951 (the year thatfusion bombs were first exploded).A sunspot around 3,500 millionths of the solar disk was associatedwith the 13 March 1989 Solar Flare.
As Richard Hoagland notes in his webpages, Jupiter has a 3x4 = 12 year sidereal period and Saturn hasa 7x4 = 28 year sidereal period, so that they are in line with theSun (on the same side of the Sun) every 7x3 = 21 years, which is theperiod of the Solar Magnetic Cycle. At mid-cycle, 10.5 years afterits beginning they are on opposite sides of the Sun. The periodbetween 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 degreesapart) is 10.5 years, roughly the Sunspot Cycle.
Although I do not agree with everything on Richard Hoagland'sweb pages,I do think that everything there is thought-provoking. As with allweb pages, including mine, readers should think about the materialand make up their own minds as to which parts of the material theythink are substantially correct, which parts are not proven one wayor 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 lensfocal length of the Sun, about 540 AU, and the possible source regionof Gamma Ray Bursts.
Beyond the Heliosphere,the Sun lies in a LocalBubble,
which is roughly elliptical in shape and whose size is on theorder of about 300 light years across its short axis and 1,000 lightyears across (1 light year = 63,240 AU). The LocalBubble could have been created by the GemingaSupernova about 340,000 years ago, at which time it was about 300light years from Earth. (See Kaufmann, Astronomy (4th ed), Freeman1994.)
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 ScienceNews, on 6 June 2000 (3 Sivan 5760) "... the orbiting Solar andHeliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recorded a powerful series of solareruptions including a full-halo coronal mass ejection (CME). ...
The CME should reach Earth ... around midday on Thursday, June8 ( 5 Sivan 5760 - Erev Shavuot ) .
... The June 6, 2000, coronal massejection was accompanied by two of the most intense solar flaressince a brilliant eruption in February2000. ...
On June 6, 2000 (3 Sivan 5760), two solar flares from activeregion 9026 registered as powerful X-class eruptions ...". Comparethe size of phenomena ofrecently-formed stars.
According to the SECAuroral web page and the movies linked from it, AuroralActivity was strong in the Pacific / North Asia region from about0945 UT to about 1947 UT on 8 June 2000, which included the sundownbeginning of Shavuot (6 Sivan 5760):
According to an SECweb 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 level10 again on 11 June 2000 (9 Sivan 5760).
According to a10 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 differentaltitudes, ranging from 124 miles (200 kilometers) to 11,600 miles(19,000 kilometers) up... have together stumbled on ... a spike ofenergy that shot into space high above Earth ...
... Aurora are generated in a near-vacuum ... Electrons flungearthward by the Sun strike a few atoms in the planet's very thinupper atmosphere. The atoms are excited and give off light. ... Astudy of the Cluster data, led by Goran Marklund of the RoyalInstitute of Technology in Stockholm, found that an upward-movingbeam of electrons grew and then vanished within a period of time thatlasted just over 3 minutes. ... The electrons spotted by Cluster wereevacuated into space, the researchers say, leaving a hole in theionosphere.
Marklund and his colleagues suggest that the electron beam alloweda corresponding downward beam to develop, which led to visibleaurora. ...". [ To me, this seems like a rip tide current flowingaway from an ocean beach. ]
On 5 February 2000 the ChineseNew Year of the Metal Dragon began with the fireworks ofan X-Class Solar Flare. According to SpaceScience News, "... a major solar flare erupted on the northeastlimb of the Sun at 1928 UT on February 5. ... it was one of thelargest 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. Itregistered the maximum rating of "B" (for brilliant) on the 3-levelscale of optical intensity for solar flares. At X-ray wavelengthsthe Earth-orbiting GOES 8 satellite also detected a bright surge thatput the flare in the most powerful X-class.Large flares like this one can emit up to 10^32 ergs of energy. Thisenergy is ten million times greater than the energy released from avolcanic explosion. On the other hand, it is less than one-tenth ofthe total energy emitted by the Sun every second. ...
... This image of the Sun was taken through a red "H-alpha" filterat the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The bright spot closestto the upper left corner is the solar flare. ...".
According to a15 February 2001 article on science.msfc.nasa.gov:"... The Sun's magnetic north pole, which was in the northernhemisphere just a few months ago, now points south. ...
... The Sun's magnetic poles will remain as they are now, with thenorth magnetic pole pointing through the Sun's southern hemisphere,until the year 2012 when they will reverse again. This transitionhappens, as far as we know, at the peak of every 11-year sunspotcycle ...... Because the Sun rotates (once every 27 days) solarmagnetic fields corkscrew outwards in the shape of an Archimedianspiral. Far above the poles the magnetic fields twist around like achild's Slinky toy. ... Sunspots are sources of intense magneticknots that spiral outwards even as the dipole field vanishes. Theheliosphere doesn't simply wink out of existence when the poles flip-- there are plenty of complex magnetic structures to fill the void....".
According to anarticle in spaceweather.com:"... On March 28, 2001, active region AR9393 became the biggestsunspot since 1991. Astronomers measure the sizes of sunspots asfractions of the Sun's visible area. Their favorite units are"millionth's." A sunspot that registers 1 millionth has a surfacearea equal to 0.000001 times the area of the Sun's Earth-facinghemisphere. Typically, a big sunspot measures 300 to 500 millionths.The entire surface area of the Earth is only 169 millionths of thesolar disk. This week's whopper, AR9393, registered 2400 millionthson March 29, 2001 (14 times larger than Earth), surpassing lastyear'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 physicistat the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center -- shows the size of thebiggest individual spots in each year between 1900 and 2000. Notablespots include the Great Sunspot of 1947, which was three times largerthan AR9393, and a large sunspot in March 1989that triggered an historic geomagnetic storm. ...".
According to a 3April 2001 news article by Alan M. MacRobert in Skyand Telescope: "... Within days ... Active Region 9393 grew tobecome the biggest mass of spots to mark the Sun's face in ten years.[BBCweb article 30 March 2001
byDavid 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; bythe dramatic auroral displays it has spawned, perhaps the best of thecurrent solar cycle. The spot group is a huge, knotted-up magneticdisturbance that grew to be as long as 22 times the diameter of theEarth. It has been popping off with powerful flares and coronal massejections as its tangled magnetic fields interconnect andshort-circuit. The flares have irradiated satellites and Earth'supper atmosphere with X-rays and high-speed protons. The coronal massejections have buffeted Earth's magnetosphere with massive gusts ofionized solar wind. A geomagnetic storm lasting more than 24 hours onMarch 30 - 31 produced a grand, blood-red display of northern lights[BBCweb article 2 April 2001
byDavid Whitehouse, Idaho AP photo]
that reached as far south as southern California, Texas, and theCarolinas ... The great March 30th aurora as seen from anappropriately named street in North Carolina.
Fish-eye lens photo by Johnny Horne. ... much of the rest of thecountry was clouded out ...
In the Southern Hemisphere, the corresponding display of southernlights [BBCweb article 2 April 2001
byDavid Whitehouse, photo from Chris Petrich]
delighted skywatchers in New Zealand and elsewhere. ...".
According to a BBCweb article 4 April 2001 by David Whitehouse: "... the Sun hasunleashed one of the largest flares on record [Soho photo]-
but fortunately, astronomers say, the Earth is not in the line offire. ... The flare, a titanic explosion just above the solarsurface, occurred near the Sun's north-west limb in the region of thegiant sunspot group Noaa 9393 that has been such a dramatic sight inthe past week. Noaa 9393 is being carried out of sight by the Sun'srotation. This means that the vast cloud of charged particles theflare threw into space will not collide with the Earth causingauroral light shows and radio blackouts. The flare was classified asa major event and was more powerful than the one in March 1989 thatshut down a Canadian electrical power grid causing six million peopleto lose power for nine hours. ... radiation from the flare didtemporarily disrupt radio communications. A storm of protons 10,000times greater than usual was created and this swept past the Earth.... "This explosion was estimated as an X-20 flare, and was as strongas the record X-20 flare on 16 August, 1989," said ... Dr PaulBrekke, project scientist for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory(Soho) .... The flare was the most powerful since regular X-ray datafrom the Sun became available in 1976. "It was more powerful thatthe famous 6 March, 1989, flare which was relatedto the disruption of the power grids in Canada." ...".
On 13 March 1989, the voltage of Quebec's power grid began tofluctuate alarmingly. Seconds later, the lights went out acrossthe entire province. Some 6 million people were without electricityfor nine hours. Within two days, NASA had lost track of some of itsspacecraft and the northern lights were glowing in the sky south ofLondon. As described in the 3 February 1996 issue of The NewScientist, these events had the same cause - a monumental SolarStorm, the fiercest for 30 years. Its Auroral display over theEastern USA
is shown in this image taken around 04:00 Universal Time on 14March 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 dramaticallydisplayed than in early March 1989. Over a period of ten days, aseries of violent flares unleashed a combined shower of radiation,energized particles, and magnetism that knocked out electricity allacross the province of Quebec, rendered normal radio frequenciesunusable, and draped the night skies of the Northern Hemisphere witha crimson aurora borealis that could be seen as far south as KeyWest, Florida.
On March 13, 1989, for example, a radio amateur in Rhode Islandwas able to contact a second operator in England using the VHF bandof 50 megahertz.
As the flares' extreme-ultraviolet flux heated and expandedEarth's upper atmosphere, the increased atmospheric drag reduced theorbital energy of hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit. Thisknocked the spacecraft into lower and faster orbits, causing groundcontrollers to temporarily lose contact with them. Meanwhile, many ofthe 7,000 orbiting objecs that are tracked by the U.S. SpaceSurveillance Network were lost from view.
The 13 March 1989 Solar Storm caused an increase in highfrequency fluctuations in surfaceatmospheric pressure, according to chao-dyn/9807008by Selvam,Fadnavis, Athale and Tinmaker, who say: "... Observationalstudies indicate that there is a close association betweengeomagnetic storm and meteorological parameters. Geomagnetic fieldlines follow closely the isobars of surface pressure (J.W.King, 1975Aeronautics and Astronautics 13(4), 10 ). A Physical mechanismlinking upper atmospheric geomagnetic storm disturbances withtropospheric weather has been proposed by sikka et. al.(1987 Adv.Atmos. Sci. 5(2), 217) where it is postulated that vertical mixing byturbulent eddy fluctuations results in the net transport upward ofpositive charges originating from lower levels accompaniedsimultaneously by downward flow of negative charges from higherlevels.
A series of exceptional solar flares in March 1989, widelyreported at the time, had extensive effects on the Earth's ionosphereaccording to three papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research.These effects included the rapid upwards drift of plasma, the strongdepletion of ionosphereic density at low latitudes, (a sort ofequatorial ionospheric 'hole') and the creation of wavelikeoscillations. These reports are among the first detailing theinfluence of the most recent maximum in solar activity, the March1989 events in particular.
The effects of the solar activity on the ionosphere are but anexample of the influence of solar activity on the Earth and itsenvironment. A spectacular series of solar X-ray flares was producedby a large, complex sunspot group during the period 6-19 March 1989,causing numerous effects at the Earth which remind us that the Sun'sinfluence on us extends far beyond the radiation that lights our wayand warms us. The energetic particles escaping from the active Suncan disrupt communications, upset the routine activities ofspacecraft in geostationary orbit, cause crippling power failures,and result in brilliant auroral displays at latitudes much lower thannormal.
The March flares produced the "great" magnetic storm of 13-14March 1989 which, in turn, resulted in many of the manifestationswhich affect our lives in very direct lways. The exact manner inwhich solar activity affects the magnetic and plasma environment ofthe Earth is a matter of considerable research. Nevertheless, somegeneral ideas exist for some of the mechanisms. The influx ofenergetic solar particles results in an increased solar wind pressureat the Earth which, in turn, acts on the magnetosphere. In responseto the inceased pressure and changes in the electric field due to thesolar wind moving past the magnetosphere, the magnetosphere contractscausing such obvious signatures as a decrease in the latitude of theauroral zone from its quiet-time location.
Energetic particles moving Earthward from the geomagnetic taildump their energy into the atmosphere. When they collide with theupper atmosphere, the atmospheric gases are excited and theirsubsequent return to a stable state results in the emission ofphotons which we recognize as the aurora. During active periods, notonly are the auroral displays likely to be more intense, but themovement of the auroral oval to lower latitudes means largepopulations not accustomed to seeing the displays are provided with arare treat. In the great storm of March 1989, aurorae were observedas far south as Mexico and the Grand Cayman Islands.
The distortion of the magnetic field induces currents inconductors. The power grids at high latitudes are especially subjectto these induced currents. The 13 March storm left 6 million peoplein Quebec without power for up to 9 hours. Power failures occurred atthe same time in Sweden.
There are numerous efects observed on Earth that exhibit an11-year periodicity, the same as the well-known solar cyhcle (whichis technically a 22-year cycle). These effects include auroralactivity, magnetic storms and there are even examples of 11-yearcycles in weather patterns. The March 1989 activity marked thebeginning of the maximum in solar cycle 22. Extraordinary solaractivity was subsequently observed in September--October 1989 andmost recently in March 1991. Gorney provides a recent review of theeffects of solar activity on the Earth, and summarizes severalpredictions about the current cycle, generally concluding that themaximum will be one of the biggest on record. Furthermore, hesuggests that periods of high solar activity, like that of March1989, can be expected for a period of up to 4-5 years. ...
Ion densities, measured during a series of equatorial passes by amilitary satellite, decreased dramatically at equatorial latitudes,corresponding to an equatorial 'hole' ... . The density variations atmidlatitudes also show marked deviations from the normal situation.Greenspan et al. suggest that the penetration of magnetosphericelectric fields and the generation of electric fields due to thedisturbed motion of the circulation patterns in the thermospherecause large upward drifts of the equatorial plasma. This then causesa poleward drift, which leaves the equatorial ionosphere depleted. Asa result of these ionospheric disturbances, the ionosphere'scapability to transmit or reflect radio waves is disrupted in anumber of ways. The resulting communications disruptions affectmilitary and civil operations. Batista et al. provide ground-basedobservations from Brazil which support the satellite observationsused by Greenspan et al. These include measurements of themagnetic-field disturbances, variations in the critical frequency(maximum plasma density) of the ionosphere and the height of thecritical frequency, and also the total electron content of theionosphere. This paper discusses in some detail the role of electricfields in storm-related ionospheric disturbances. It is thepenetration of the magnetospheric electric field and thedisturbance-dynamo electric fields which are most important indriving the plasma drifts discussed here and with respect to thesatellite observations.
Huang and Cheng summarize a number of observations made in theRepublic of China of the ionospheric distrubances as manifested inmagnetic disturbances, total electron content and short-wavepropagation effects. Among the most interesting of these are theobservations of storm-related enhancements in the nightside totalelectron content followed by an unusually large decrease.Subsequently, wave-like oscillations were observed simultaneously atthree diferent stations, suggesting "that the whole ionosphere[was] moving up and down during this disturbed period". Ofcourse, the ionosphere is only one part of the terrestial system thatcan respond to solar activity. With such exteremes of activityoccurring during the currnet solar cycle, we can look forward tofurther reports of remarkable reactions in the magnetic field, plasmaand neutral gas environment of the Earth.
Strolling outside Arizona's Kitt Peak National Observatory duringa work break, staff observer Paul Avellar at first thought the angryred glow in the night sky was caused by forest fires. Then, seeing agreenish fringe and vertical streamers stretching like ribbons abovethe horizon, he realized what was happening. He raced to a telephoneand called his wife and friends, awakening them and insisting theyshare the view. "A chance like this doesn't come along very often,"says Avellar. "To see the northern lights is very humbling andawe-inspiring. You realize the sun is just going about its businessand making our nighttime sky glow without any trouble at all. Itmakes you wonder what would happen if the sun ever really gotmad."
Some 93 million miles away, the sun was, at the very least,agitated. In early March, an area of sunspots large enough to contain70 earth-size planets had come into view around the eastern rim ofthe glowing orb. Created by intense magnetic fields and cooler thanthe surrounding gases, the sunspots were visible as dark blemishes onthe fiery surface. Just as astronomers were turning their attentionto the mottled region, a bright spot suddenly appeared in its midst.It spread like a prairie wildfire, glowing white hot on the sun'syellow face and quickly expanding to cover hundreds of thousands ofsquare miles. The monster blotch was an unusually large solar flare,a stupendous explosion that belched radiation and billions of tons ofmatter far into space.
The great flare, and its coterie of sunspots, was an unmistakablesignal. It heralded the imminent arrival of the solar maximum: theperiod every eleven years or so when the sun reaches its peak levelsof activity and pointedly reminds earth dwellers of its awesomepower. At maximum, the sun bombards the planet with radiation andparticles, causing unusually brilliant auroras, communicationsblackouts and power failures. But it also gives scientists a freshopportunity to solve some of the mysteries surrounding the star thatprovides the earth with energy, drives the weather and sustains lifeitself.
During a maximum, marked by a jump in the number of sunspots andflares, giant loops of incandescent gases, called prominences,proliferate, shooting tens of thousands of miles above the solarsurface, sometimes hanging suspended for months. The solar corona,the halo around the sun visible during total eclipses, becomes fullerand brighter; great blobs of the corona, containing billions of tonsof hot gas, occasionally burst free, shooting into space at speeds ashigh as 2 million m.p.h. And the earth's upper atmosphere, pummeledby solar particles, is laced by electrical currents of as much as amillion amperes. These in turn create powerful magnetic fields thatraise havoc below.
Because the previous maximum occurred in late 1979, astronomershad targeted 1991 as the year when solar frenzy would again peak. Butthe sun is notably capricious. While the intervals between maximumsaverage eleven years, some have been as short as seven, others aslong as 17. Ever since the sun began revving up three years agotoward the next maximum, its activity has mounted with unprecedentedspeed.
"It is the fastest riser on record," says Ron Moore, an astronomerat NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. So fast,in fact, that astronomers are betting on 1990 or perhaps even laterthis year, instead of 1991, as the beginning of the maximum. And whata maximum it could be. Despite the ferocity of the March flares,Moore warns, "this cycle is still in its early phase. It's got quitea way to go." Solar buffs are speculating it might approach theviolence reached by the 1957-58 maximum, which touched off fivedisruptive geomagnetic superstorms and vivid auroral displays. Saysastronomer Donald Neidig at the National Solar Observatory outpost onSacramento Peak, near Sunspot, N. Mex.: "We can't rule out a recordbreaker."
In anticipation of the fireworks, astronomers scheduled atwo-week, worldwide solar-observation period during the second halfof June. The project was timed to benefit from the observations ofthe Solar Maximum Mission satellite (nicknamed Solar Max) before itplunges to its death. Lofted into earth orbit in 1980 to monitor thesun's activity, the satellite is gradually descending and willprobably re-enter the earth's atmosphere in November and beincinerated. Solar Max's readings of the sun's activity werecoordinated with observations made all over the world by ground-basedtelescopes and instruments mounted on high-flying rockets. A hundredsolar centers around the globe were linked by an electronic-mailnetwork designed to provide the latest data on the sun'sbehavior.
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 toend. The sun's timing could not have been better. During the firstweek of observations, it set off several large flares and ejectedbillions of tons of matter in a prominence that extended more than200,000 miles into space.
The intense solar observations should provide clues to many of thestill unanswered or only partly resolved questions about the sun:Does the solar cycle affect terrestrial weather? What internalmechanisms control the cycle? Is the sun growing cooler? Hotter? Isthere a basic flaw in the current theory about the fusion processthat powers the solar furnace?
While the recent flares did not measure up to the Marchconflagration, astronomers were jubilant. "We have been exceptionallylucky," says Alan Kiplinger, a solar physicist at the University ofColorado. "It's unusual to have the sun cooperate."
Fortunately for earth dwellers, the March flare occurred on theeasternmost edge of the sun and thus aimed its full force away fromthe earth. But on March 10, when the sun's stately rotation broughtthe turbulent group of sunspots to a position more directly facingthe earth, a second, only slightly less powerful flare erupted in theregion. Eight minutes later, traveling at the speed of light, a blastof X ray and ultraviolet radiation seared the earth's upperatmosphere. Within an hour, high-energy protons began to arrive,followed in three days by a massive bombardment of lower-energyprotons and electrons.
Among the first to feel the effects of the flare's fury was theorbiting Solar Max. As the radiation saturated Solar Max'sinstruments, a NASA spokesman reported, "the satellite was stunnedfor a minute and then recovered." Heated by the incoming blast ofradiation, the upper fringe of the atmosphere expanded farther intospace. Low-orbiting satellites, encountering that fringe and runninginto increasing drag, slowed and dropped into still lower orbits. Asecret Defense Department satellite began a premature and fataltumble, and the tracking system that keeps exact tabs on some 19,000objects in earth orbit briefly lost track of 11,000 of them. SolarMax descended by as much as half a mile in a single day, almostcertainly hastening its demise.
On the earth, the flare's effects were equally disruptive.Shortwave transmissions were interrupted, some for as long as 24hours, and satellite communication and a Coast Guard loran navigationsystem were temporarily overwhelmed. Powerful transient magneticfields, generated in the upper atmosphere by the flare, inducedelectrical currents in transmission lines and wiring, and mystifiedhomeowners reported automatic garage doors opening and closing ontheir own. A surge of flare-induced current was blamed byHydro-Quebec officials for shutting down the power company's systemand blacking out parts of Montreal and the province of Quebec for aslong as nine hours. These startling phenomena were shrugged off bySacramento Peak's Neidig. "A really big flare," he says, "can produceenough energy to supply a major city with electricity for 200 millionyears."
By far the most dramatic manifestation of the solar flare was thetwo-night, spectacular display of the aurora borealis, or northernlights, that awed Paul Avellar and millions of others. Arrivinghigh-energy electrons, deflected by the earth's magnetic field,spilled into the upper atmosphere near the north and south polarregions, which are unprotected by magnetic-field lines. Acting muchas does the electrical current in a neon sign, the electrons bangedinto oxygen atoms, causing them to emit red and green light.
Ordinarily far less intense and visible only in arctic climes, theglowing, flickering aurora was seen as far south as Brownsville,Texas, and Key West, Fla. Alarmed Floridians, unfamiliar with thelights and fearing that a catastrophe had occurred somewhere in thenorth, flooded police switchboards with calls.
The two great flares of March were not isolated events. Nine othermajor outbursts and hundreds of smaller ones were recorded during thetwo weeks it took for the sunspot region to rotate out of view. Inthe months since, as the sun moves erratically toward its maximum,several flares have been observed every day.
According to a NASA/GSFCpress release,
- the most drastic and longest-lasting decrease ever observed.Dropping to a fraction of its normal density and to half its normalspeed, the solar wind died down enough to allow physicists to observeparticles flowing directly from the Sun's corona to Earth. Thissevere change in the solar wind also changed the shape of Earth'smagnetic field and produced an unusual auroral display at the NorthPole.
Starting late on May 10 and continuing through the early hours ofMay 12, NASA's ACE and Wind spacecraft each observed that the densityof the solar wind dropped by more than 98%. Because of the decrease,energetic electrons from the Sun were able to flow to Earth in narrowbeams, known as the strahl. Under normal conditions, electrons fromthe Sun are diluted, mixed, and redirected in interplanetary spaceand by Earth's magnetic field (the magnetosphere). But in May 1999,several satellites detected electrons arriving at Earth withproperties 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 fromthe University of Iowa and principal investigator for the Hot PlasmaAnalyzer on NASA's Polar spacecraft ... and Dr. Don Fairfield ofGoddard predicted the details of an event such as occurred on May 11,saying that it would produce an intense "polar rain" of electronsover one of the polar caps of Earth. The polar caps typically do notreceive enough energetic electrons to produce visible aurora. But inan intense polar rain event, Scudder and Fairfield theorized, the"strahl" electrons would flow unimpeded along the Sun's magneticfield lines to Earth and precipitate directly into the polar caps,inside the normal auroral oval. Such a polar rain event was observedfor the first time in May when Polar detected a steady glow over theNorth 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 TheNew York Times by James Glanz: "... On May 11 , thesolar wind dropped to a few percent of its normal density and itsspeed was cut in half. ... The magnetosphere's leading edge, calledthe bow shock, was inflated from its usual size of about 10 timesEarth's radius until it engulfed the moon, 5 or 6 times farther intospace. ...". ] NASA's Wind, IMP-8, and Lunar Prospectorspacecraft, the Russian INTERBALL satellite and the Japanese Geotailsatellite observed the most distant bow shock ever recorded bysatellites. Earth's bow shock is the shock front where the solar windslams into the sunward edge of the magnetosphere. According toobservations from the ACE spacecraft, the density of helium in thesolar wind dropped to less than 0.1% of its normal value, and heavierions, held back by the Sun's gravity, apparently could not escapefrom the Sun at all. Data from NASA's SAMPEX spacecraft reveal thatin the wake of this event, Earth's outer electron radiation beltsdissipated and were severely depleted for several months afterward....".
HAARP(High frequency Active Auroral Research Program), located nearGakona, Alaska, has a high power, high-frequency (HF) phased arrayradio transmitter (known as the Ionospheric Research Instrument, orIRI), 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 naturalionosphere. The IRI is a phased array transmitter, to be built on a33 acre site. It is designed to transmit a narrow beam of high powerradio signals in the 2.8 to 10 MHz frequency range. 30 transmittershelters each will contain 6 pairs of 10 kW transmitters, for a totalof 6 x 30 x 2 x 10 kW = 3600 kW available for transmission.
HAARP cangenerate ELF (Extremely Low Frequency, on the order of a few Hz)signals by modulation of the polar electrojet, which originatesin the magnetosphere, flowing near the equator side limit of thevisible aurora at the altitude of the E layer (approximately 100 km),and carrying currents that often exceed a million amperes. Thecurrent is distributed within a sheet 100 km or more wide. HAARPtransmissions can deposit energy into the layer carrying theelectrojet currents. Under typical ionospheric conditions, thisfrequency would be near the lower end of the facility's 2.8 - 10 MHzoperating range. The signal is caused to vary in amplitude by a lowfrequency modulation such that the strength of the fundamental HFsignal varies in a regular (or periodic) manner. During the peaks ofthe transmitted signal the layer volume absorbs energy and its localconductivity decreases. During troughs in the fundamental HF signal,as the transmitted power approaches zero, the volume conductivityreturns to normal and the net current in the region returns to itsoriginal value. This generates an electromagnetic signal at themodulation frequency, which can be in the ELF range, which is therange of Schumann Resonances.
Extremely Low Frequencies, in range of SchumannResonances, can be generated from High Frequency transmitters byusing Harmonics, SideBands, or Beats between narrowly separated HighFrequencies.
When Antennas transmit Electromagnetic Radiation,
To get some general ideas, consider idealized simpleantennas carrying harmonically varying current, with antenna lengthmuch shorter than emitted radiation, the dipole approximation fordifferential antennas.
The radial dependence of the electric E field from a dipoleantennas has three distinct regions. For region at distance R and forwavenumber k, the three regions are:
The magnetic B field has two regions, varying as 1/R and1/R^2.
If you take into account, not only the spherical coordinate R butalso the spherical coordinate PHI (where PHI = 0 is the half-plane ofthe 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 retardedScalar (timelike) part of the Electromagnetic Potential. It does notcontribute to Radiation, but is only in the Induction region andthe Static region.
The Electromagnetic E and B fields in the Radiation region comefrom Vector (3-spacelike) part of the Electromagnetic Potential.Conventional radio and television broadcast uses the Radiation fieldin the Radiation region where E goes like 1/R. There is acorresponding region in Gravitation, the GravitoEM RadiationRegion.
In the Induction region, E and B go like 1/R^2. There is acorresponding region in Gravitation, the GravitoEMRadiation Region.
GraviPhoton phenomena arealso interesting.
The Static region where E goes like 1/R^3 has been used forsecure communication in the local region (say a few kilometers)around ships at sea, because the Static signal far away from theship is very small and hard to intercept. (See Nayfeh and Brussel,Electricity and Magnetism, (Wiley 1985).) There is a correspondingregion in Gravitation, the GravitoEMStatic Region.
A Covariant Electromagnetic Potential has four degrees offreedom, one timelike and three spacelike, so there are fourtypes of Covariant Photons.
The other two degrees of freedom, or types of Photon, correspondto the instantaneous Coulomb interaction which is "... actuallyequivalent to an interaction due to the emission and subsequentabsorption of a time-like Photon and a longitudinal Photon,considered together. ... one may say that the Photon always has fourstates of polarization regardless of whether it is virtual or real,but that whenever it is real [a free photon], the timelikePhoton and the longitudinal Photon always give rise to contributionswhich are equal in magnitude but opposite in sign." (See Sakurai,Advanced Quantum Mechanics (Benjamin/Cummings 1967) from which theabove figure is taken.)
Now consider a Navy ship using a Static region of 2 km for localcommunication.
As Feynman says in Space-Time Approach to Quantum Electrodynamics(Phys. Rev. 76 (1949) 769, reprinted in Selected Papers on QuantumElectrodynamics, ed. by Julian Schwinger (Dover 1958), at page 272 ofSchwinger's book): "... what looks like a real process from one pointof view may appear as a virtual process occurring over a moreextended time ...". I think the converse is also true.
As Jack Sarfatti says, "...we may be able to track the quantum fluctuations if they are notreally random in some kind of squeezed state maybe? This is where myback-action may come in ...".
My conjecture is that maybe if you could get enough of thelongitudinal photons in the Static region to be coherently off theoriginally prevailing Minkowski light-cone, you could shift theprevailing light-cone in some part of the Static region, thus curvingSpaceTime there, so that
Another application of Near Field photons is Near-fieldScanning Optical Microscopy (NSOM), which has been used toachieve "...lateral resolution of the order 20 nm ..., and vertical resolution ofless than 1 nm may be possible. ... Applications include mapping ofthe optical properties of nanostructured materials such asmicrocrystalline domains in electrooptic materials, structure inbiological membranes, and nanometer-scale particulate or subsurfacedefects on optical and semiconductor surfaces. Other applicationsinclude near-field measurements of photonic devices, evaluation oflatent images in photoresists, and optical data storage....".
William D.Walker, in physics/0001063, has shown "... that electromagneticnear-field waves and wave groups, generated by an oscillatingelectric dipole, propagate much faster than the speed of light asthey are generated near the source, and reduce to the speed of lightat about one wavelength from the source. The speed at which wavegroups propagate (group speed) is shown to be the speed at which bothmodulated wave information and wave energy density propagate. Becauseof the similarity of the governing partial differential equations,two other physical systems (magnetic oscillating dipole, andgravitational radiating oscillating mass) are noted to have similarresults. ...".
Ramakrishna,Pendry, Wiltshire and Stewart, in Imaging the near Field,cond-mat/0207026, say: "... In an earlier paper we introduced theconcept of the perfect lens which focuses both near and farelectromagnetic fields, hence attaining perfect resolution. Here weconsider refinements of the original prescription designed toovercome the limitations of imperfect materials. In particular weshow that a multi-layer stack of positive and negative refractivemedia is less sensitive to imperfections. It has the novel propertyof behaving like a fibre-optic bundle but one that acts on the nearfield, not just the radiative component. The effects of retardationare included and minimized by making the slabs thinner. Absorptionthen dominates image resolution in the near-field. The deleteriouseffects of absorption in the metal are reduced for thinner layers.... It was Veselago in 1968 ... who first realised that negativevalues for ... electrical permittivity and magnetic permeability... would result in a negative refractive index and he also pointedout that such a negative refractive material (NRM) would act as alens ... ".
Methods of Theoretical Physics, byMorse and Feshbach (McGraw-Hill 1953), (in Part II - which is VolumeII), describes Longitudinal and Transverse Fields in terms ofdyadics, Green's Functions, the Helmholtz equation, LaPlacetransforms, and the Wave Equations, saying:
page 1784 "... The motion of the medium ... is quite similar to asmoke ring or ringvortex ...".
page 1790: "... At short distances (R << ct) the ringvortex mentioned on page 1784 builds up steadily after t = 0,according to the function v[t - to - R/c)]. ...".
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