The solar wind stream that instigated the display has produced many enchanting auroral forms since March 1st. Browse the realtime gallery for more. www.spaceweather.com
Last night in Otago, New Zealand, Ian Griffin counted more than a dozen "aurora sprites" dancing over Hoopers Inlet. "The display was very beautiful," says Griffin, "with ghostly auroral sprites putting on a display that lasted for several hours."
Also known as "picket fence auroras," these vertical rays trace lines of magnetic force connecting Earth to space. The luminous columns show where beams of energetic particles are being guided toward Earth's upper atmosphere by magnetic fields.
The solar wind stream that instigated the display has produced many enchanting auroral forms since March 1st. Browse the realtime gallery for more. www.spaceweather.com
Cosmos Magazine: 24 Feb 2017
© NASA/Getty Images
Multiple images of the Crab Nebula made over a span of several months with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory show matter and antimatter propelled to nearly the speed of light by the Crab pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star the size of Manhattan.
Well, bang go those theories. Astrophysicists have identified a neutron star that overturns not one but three well supported hypotheses.
The star, known as NGC 5907 ULX, is emitting far more x-rays than any other ever observed. So huge is the output that it has been classified as an "ultraluminous x-ray source" (ULX). It is by no means the first ULX to be recorded in nearby galaxies, but all the others are confidently predicted to be generated by black holes - this is the first one that uses star-power.
So there goes the first theory.
But there are still more baffling elements to the discovery, made by a team led by Gianluca Israel from the National Institute of Astrophysics in Rome, Italy, and reported in Science.
For a start, until now it was thought that there was a physical constraint that prevented a neutron glowing as brightly as NGC 5907 ULX. It's called the Eddington limit, which describes the theoretical maximum set by the balance between the force of radiation acting outward and the gravitational force acting inward.
This star exceeds the Eddington limit by 1,000 times - which shouldn't be possible, but evidently is. So there goes theory number two.
The third theory that has taken a battering is one that is familiar to every primary school pupil: magnets, planets and stars have two poles. Ordinary stars do, of course, but NGC 5907 ULX is far from ordinary.
Israel and colleagues contend that the only way the star could achieve such an extremely high output is by having multiple magnetic poles.
"Such high luminosities are often displayed by many ULXs that have previously been classified as accreting black holes," they write. "A multicomponent strong magnetic field is necessary to account for the properties of NGC 5907 ULX."
In the Lofoten Islands of Norway, Spaceweather.com reader Rob Stammes operates a magnetic observatory. Twenty-four hours a day, he measures the strength and direction of the local magnetic field as well as electrical currents running through the ground. During geomagnetic storms, his chart recordings go haywire. On Jan. 13th, something different happened. They rang like a bell:
"For about an hour, electrical currents in the ground beneath my observatory flowed back and forth with a sinusoidal period near 2 minutes," says Stammes. "This is rare."
These are natural ultra-low frequency oscillations known to researchers as "pulsations continuous" (Pc). The physics is familiar to anyone who has studied bells or resonant cavities. Earth's magnetic field carves out a cavity in the surrounding solar wind. Gusts of solar wind can make the cavity "ring" akin to a bell (references: #1, #2, #3). Human ears cannot hear this ringing; it is electromagnetic rather than acoustic. The physical effect is felt beneath our feet. As the cavity vibrates, magnetic fields swing back and forth, causing electrical currents to flow through the ground below.
The Pc waves Stammes detected are a variety known as Pc4, which oscillate in the frequency range 6.7–22 mHz. Such waves are good at energizing particles trapped in Earth's magnetic field and often cause local outbursts of bright auroras. www.spaceweather.com
Similar occurrences were also reported on 12 September and 23 October 2016:
http://www.ascensionnow.co.uk/quick-info/-earths-magnetic-field-rings-like-a-bell - 12 Sept. 2016
http://www.ascensionnow.co.uk/quick-info/sinusoidal-ground-currents-in-norway - 23 Oct. 2016
Six days after Earth entered a stream of high-speed solar wind ... we're still inside. The solar wind continues to blow faster than 500 km/s on Oct. 31st. Although it is not as gusty as it was during first contact on Oct. 25th, the relentless pressure of the sun's electrically charged wind on Earth's magnetic field is causing the poles to glow with beautiful auroras. Marketa S. Murray sends this picture from Fairbanks, Alaska, on Oct. 29th:
"When you stand there and the whole sky is just dancing overhead, your adrenaline and endorphin get so high," says Murray. "It's mind blowing every time it happens. It never gets old, even for an Alaskan!"
Until Earth fully exits this stream, polar auroras remain likely. A good way to follow the action is to tune into a live webcam in Sweden's Abisko National Park. "We have seen the lights nearly every night in October!" says Chad Blakley of Lights over Lapland, who operates the camera.
Watch it now. www.spaceweather.com
Not all space weather occurs high overhead. Sometimes it happens in the soil beneath our feet. Example: On Oct. 23rd in the Lofoten Islands of Norway, electrical currents began to flow through the ground, back and forth with a sinusoidal period of 74 seconds. Rob Stammes recorded the phenomenon at his geomagnetic observatory:
"Just after midnight UTC and around 02.36 local time, my ground current instruments picked up these very stable pulsations," says Stammes.
What's happening here? Ground currents are a sign of changing magnetic fields. Earth's magnetic field around the Lofoten Islands was swinging back and forth, inducing a sinusoidal amperage in the soil beneath Stamme's observatory.
These are natural ultra-low frequency oscillations known to researchers as "pulsations continuous" (Pc). The physics is familiar to anyone who has studied bells or resonant cavities. Earth's magnetic field extends out into space and carves out a cavity in the surrounding solar wind. Pressure fluctuations in the solar wind can excite wave modes in the cavity--usually in a noisy cacophany of many frequencies, but sometimes with almost-monochromatic purity. In such cases, Earth's magnetic field "rings like a bell" with slow tones that reach all the way down to the ground. That's what happened on Oct. 23rd. References: #1, #2, #3.
In the Lofoten Islands of Norway, Spaceweather.com reader Rob Stammes operates a magnetic observatory. 24 hours a day, he measures the strength and direction of the local magnetic field as well electrical currents running through the ground. During geomagnetic storms, his chart recordings go haywire. On Sept. 12th, something different happened. They rang like a bell:
"During the morning and especially around noon, sinusoidal pulsations appeared on my instruments," says Stammes. "The period was close to 115 seconds."
These are natural ultra-low frequency oscillations known to researchers as "pulsations continuous" (Pc). The physics is familiar to anyone who has studied bells or resonant cavities. Earth's magnetic field carves out a cavity in the surrounding solar wind. Pressure fluctuations in the solar wind can excite wave modes in this cavity much like Stammes observed. References: #1, #2, #3.
The Sept. 12th oscillations are Pc4 waves; in other words, their frequencies fall in the range 6.7–22 mHz. Pc4 waves, and their even lower frequency cousins Pc5 waves (1.7–6.7 mHz), can have an energizing influence on particles in Earth's inner magnetosphere because the waves resonate with the natural motion of particles around the geomagnetic field. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that bright auroras were observed on both Sept. 11th and 12th.
Ole Salomonsen photographed these from the window of an airplane just before sunrise in Norway:
"To get the shot was not easy," says Salomonsen. "I had to use a handheld camera in a moving plane! To create some darkness, I draped one of my jackets to over me and the window to prevent cabin-light reflections ruining the shot. The people sitting next to me probably must have had a good laugh :) Anyway I think it was worth it. Observing the auroras from air is definitely special."
Rob Stammes has been monitoring magnetic pulsations in Norway for years. "They seem to occur most often around the equinoxes," he says. That means we should stay tuned for more. It is aurora season, after all.
Published on May 12, 2016
Like sending sensors up into a hurricane, NASA has flown four spacecraft through an invisible maelstrom in space, called magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection is one of the prime drivers of space radiation and so it is a key factor in the quest to learn more about our space environment and protect our spacecraft and astronauts as we explore farther and farther from Earth.
MMS is made of four identical spacecraft that launched in March 2015. They fly in a pyramid formation to create a full 3-dimensional map of any phenomena it observes. On October 16, 2015, the spacecraft traveled straight through a magnetic reconnection event at the boundary where Earth’s magnetic field bumps up against the sun’s magnetic field.
This short video outlines the MMS mission and its first results. Since it launched, MMS has made more than 4,000 trips through the magnetic boundaries around Earth, each time gathering information about the way the magnetic fields and particles move. A surprising result was that at the moment of interconnection between the sun’s magnetic field lines and those of Earth the crescents turned abruptly so that the electrons flowed along the field lines. By watching these electron tracers, MMS made the first observation of the predicted breaking and interconnection of magnetic fields in space.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Genna Duberstein
If you like this video, subscribe to the NASA Goddard YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/NASAExplorer
This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/deta...
Please do not be alarmed by the content of this video. Watch it in conjunction with reading the channelled information in
'The Future of DNA' by Kryon. This channelling (which has a link to an article containing the above video) explains what is happening to the Solar System - to the Sun and Earth in particular - and to Humanity, and why it is happening.
For reasons researchers don't fully understand, auroras love equinoxes. At this time of year even a gentle gust of solar wind can spark a bright display. Tomorrow, Sept.23rd, is the northern autumnal equinox. Perfect timing: a CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 23rd. The impact will probably be weak, but on the first night of autumn, weak may be strong enough. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for equinox auroras. www.spaceweather.com
A surprisingly strong G3-class geomagnetic storm erupted on Aug. 15th when a CME hit Earth's magnetic field. Two nights later, as the storm was subsiding, midnight sky watchers in North America witnessed a rare and beautiful form of aurora--a "proton arc." Paul Zizka photographed the phenomenon on Aug. 17th from Banff, Alberta (see below, left). "It was incredible," says Zizka. "The whitish pillar remained nearly stationary for over 30 minutes--enough time for a self-portrait."
In Val Marie, Saskatchewan, photographer Sherri Grant saw a purple proton arc cutting across the Milky Way. And in Oroville, Washington, at the Table Mountain Star Party, campers witnessed at least two more arcs (see below, centre and right).
Ordinary auroras are caused by electrons, which rain down on Earth's atmosphere from above. Atoms of oxygen and nitrogen, excited by the pitter-patter of electrons, form dynamic curtains of light. Protons have a different effect. For reasons not fully understood, protons normally trapped in our planet's ring current sometimes rain down on Earth's atmosphere during geomagnetic storms. En route, they excite a type of plasma wave called "EMIC"--short for electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves. The result is not a curtain, but rather a tight arc of light as shown above.
Many of the photographers who witnessed proton arcs on Aug. 17th have been observing auroras for years, yet they had never seen this phenomenon before. Geomagnetic storms still have the capacity to surprise!
European Space Agency : 11 Aug 2015
On 29 July, Rosetta observed the most dramatic outburst yet, registered by several of its instruments from their vantage point 186 km from the comet. They imaged the outburst erupting from the nucleus, witnessed a change in the structure and composition of the gaseous coma environment surrounding Rosetta, and detected increased levels of dust impacts. Perhaps most surprisingly, Rosetta found that the outburst had pushed away the solar wind magnetic field from around the nucleus.
The rest of this article can be read here.
Jenna Lacurci : Nature World News : 12 May 2015
© University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Benjamin Foster
What is referred to as "breaking wave" cloud patterns in our atmosphere reportedly disturb Earth's magnetic field (or magnetosphere) surprisingly often - more often than scientists previously thought, according to new research. The phenomenon involves ultra low-frequency Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, which are abundant throughout the Universe and create distinctive patterns - which can be seen from Earth's clouds and ocean surfaces, to even the atmosphere of Jupiter.
"Our paper shows that the waves, which are created by what's known as the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, happens much more frequently than previously thought," co-author Joachim Raeder of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Space Science Center within the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, said in a statement. "And this is significant because whenever the edge of Earth's magnetosphere, the magnetopause, gets rattled it will create waves that propagate everywhere in the magnetosphere, which in turn can energize or de-energize the particles in the radiation belts." In fact, data shows that Kelvin-Helmholtz waves actually occur 20 percent of the time at the magnetopause and can change the energy levels of our planet's radiation belts.
So why is this important? Well, first of all, Earth's magnetic field protects us from cosmic radiation. Not to mention these changing energy levels can potentially impact how the radiation belts either protect or threaten spacecraft and Earth-based technologies. But the UNH team presses that their discovery is less about the effects of so-called "space weather" and more about a better understanding of the basic physics of how the magnetosphere works. "It's another piece of the puzzle," Raeder said. "Previously, people thought Kelvin-Helmholtz waves at the magnetopause would be rare, but we found it happens all the time."
Kelvin-Helmholtz instability waves - named for 19th century scientists Lord William Thomson Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz - can be seen in everyday life, such as in cloud patterns, on the surface of oceans or lakes, or even in a backyard pool. The distinctive waves with capped tops and cloudless troughs are created by what's known as velocity shear, which occurs when a fluid or two different fluids - wind and water, for example - interact at different speeds to create differing pressures at the back and front ends of the wave.
Though these waves are ubiquitous in the Universe, their abundance was not known until scientists used data from NASA's Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) mission, which launched in 2007 and provides unique, long-term observations. The results are described further in the journal Nature Communications.
Chuck Bednar : RedOrbit : Fri, 13 Mar 2015
Like a soda can with magnets
The new bionic heart would only have one moving part and would transport blood through the body using magnets instead of pumping it, they explained. A prototype that has been used in large animals allows them to live for a month and even exercise on a treadmill for one month before they are culled to examine its impact on their brain and other organs.
"The device has performed in many respects better than any artificial heart anybody has come up with in the last 50 years," Cohn told ABC News, noting that he and his colleagues consider it the "first legitimate shot... for a permanent mechanical replacement for the failing human heart." He added that "kidney function, lung function, everything works beautifully throughout."
While the device, which is approximately half the size of a soda can, is implanted in a patient's chest, it has a battery-operated controller that remains outside his or her body, a recent Lubbock Online blog said. It features a spinning disk with fins suspended by a pair of magnetic fields that prevent it from touching anything, and rotates an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 times a minute.
Leave it to the Aussies
According to the Houston Chronicle, the bionic heart was first designed by Australian engineer Daniel Timms and was further developed by Dr. Cohn. Its disk remains flat by undergoing 20,000 micro-adjustments per second, and since the left and right sides of the heart work harder under different circumstances, it adjusts the balance 20 times per second. As Dr. Cohn, who is also a heart surgeon at the Institute, told the newspaper, "People bring in suitcases all the time with these devices, and by and large it's a lot of crap. When Daniel came in I realized almost immediately this was the mostly highly evolved and brilliant device I've ever seen. I immediately told him he should move to Houston."
Go check out their Kickhearter
Earlier this month, the team developing the beatless heart told The Courier-Journal that they hope to have the device fully operational and ready for use in human patients by 2020, but that the device first needed to pass rigorous and expensive tests to prove it worked and was safe. To help cover the costs of those tests, the Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital Foundation has launched a campaign to raise $5 million to help prepare the heart for human trials by 2018, the Australian newspaper added. The potential cost of the final device is not yet known.
"We are taking-on evolution, we have never had anyone alive without a pulse and a lot of people thought that could never be done," cardiac expert John Fraser said during a recent fundraising event, The Courier-Journal said. "Evolution developed us with a pulse but we don't need one." "The pump... has got no pulse, it has a spinning disk levitated by magnets, very much like the Japanese trains levitated by magnets... there is no wear (and tear). There have been devices before that support one side of the heart... where you don't have a pulse, but this is something that can entirely replace the heart," he added, noting that the device could last two decades.
All week long, sunspot AR2297 has been crackling with solar flares. Yesterday it produced a really big one. On March 11th at 16:22 UT (09:22 PDT), Earth orbiting-satellites detected an X2-class flare. The blast zone was larger than Earth tself:
Later today, March 12th, NASA will launch a fleet of spacecraft to investigate the mystery of magnetic reconnection: On the sun, magnetic field lines cross, cancel, reconnect and—bang! A solar flare explodes. How does the simple act of crisscrossing magnetic fields trigger such a ferocious blast? The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission aims to find out. Get the full story from Science@NASA.
Solar activity is high. During the past 48 hours, monster sunspot AR2192 has produced a series of seven M-class solar flares of increasing intensity. The eruptions crossed the threshold into X-territory with an X1-class flare on Oct. 22nd. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a powerful flash of extreme UV radiation in the sunspot's magnetic canopy at 14:30 UT:
Remarkably, not one of the explosions so far has hurled a significant CME toward Earth. The primary effect of the flares has been to ionize Earth's upper atmosphere, causing a series of short-lived HF radio communications blackouts. Such blackouts may be noticed by amateur radio operators, aviators, and mariners. Earth-effects could increase in the days ahead. AR2192 has an unstable 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful explosions, and the active region is turning toward Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate at 65% chance of M-class flares and a 20% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours.
AR2192 is shaping up to be the biggest sunspot in many years. Its area is now approaching that of AR0496, the last great sunspot of the previous solar cycle, which covered 2610 millionths of the solar disc on Oct. 30, 2003. As of 0h UT today AR 2192 is 2410 millionths. (Thanks to Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory for this comparison.) Because the sunspot is so large--now about as wide as the planet Jupiter--people are beginning to notice it at sunset when the sun is dimmed by clouds or haze. Pilot Brian Whittaker took this picture on Oct. 21st while flying 36,000 ft over Resolute, Nunavut, Canada:
"I was impressed to photograph the giant sunspot as the sun set over Arctic Canada," says Whittaker. "Actually, the sun was temporarily rising because of our great relative speed over the lines of longitude at N75 degrees! Note the green upper rim."
Photographers beware: Do not look at the sun through unfiltered optics. Even when dimmed by clouds or haze, sunlight amplified by camera lenses can cause serious eye damage. If you decide to photograph the low-hanging sun, use your camera's LCD screen for viewfinding. Better yet, buy a solar telescope.
_This section is for interesting items which are brought to my attention but which do not merit a separate article.
I welcome your comments, questions or suggestions on any topics you wish to contribute to this section.
Link to: Contact and