Sunspots and the Sun’s Magnetic Field
Sunspots are only one of the pantheon of currently unexplained solar system phenomena. They appear spontaneously, often in pairs or groups, and their numbers increase and decrease with a period of about eleven years. They are dark relative to the ‘normal’ solar surface (10,000 F or 5300 K), but are still very hot (typically 3200 K), often attain sizes as large as the Earth and typically last a few weeks. The interest of scientists has been tweaked in recent decades with the realization that they constitute sources of great solar flares producing waves of high energy particles which strike the Earth, disrupting communications and power grids, and threatening the lives of astronauts exposed in space.
Sunspot Butterfly Diagram
The eleven year cycle involves some intriguing structure. One form in which it is presented is by a plot of daily sunspot area versus solar latitude over a number of eleven year cycles, known as a butterfly diagram shown in Figure 1. In the early part of each cycle the sunspots usually appear at north and south latitudes as high as 30 degrees but then move closer to the solar equator as the cycle continues. Then after a short period of almost no activity, the cycle begins again.
Water Only in Sunspots
Surprisingly, large amounts of water have been reported inside sunspots by several research groups. Water should be completely dissociated into H and OH radicals and ultimately to O and H atoms at the surface temperature of the Sun (5800 Kelvins). One paper, (Water on the Sun: Molecules Everywhere, by Takeshi Oka, Science, 277, 18 July 1997) reports that the spectrum of water was unequivocally measured in a sunspot at a temperature of 3200 degrees Fahrenheit. Although initially surprised at the finding, the author tries to explain the finding within the current uniformitarian paradigm. “When the temperature is reduced to 3200 K, we should not be surprised that the atoms quickly go out and find mates to form massive numbers of water molecules.” It is more likely the water fell into the Sun and was spotted beforebeing dissociated. Measurements by chemist Peter Bernath and his colleagues at the University of Waterloo indicated that there were enough water molecules in one 12,000 mile-wide sunspot to fill a lake four square miles in area and 300 feet deep.
Another unsolved mystery of the Sun, not directly linked to sunspots, is the fact that its ‘atmosphere’ attains temperatures above 1,000,000 degrees while the visible surface is only at 5800 Kelvins. This ‘corona’ is currently thought to supply the energy which powers the solar wind. It is also thought to be associated with the magnetic field of the Sun, because the corona attains its highest temperatures in areas surrounding sunspots, where the magnetic field is distorted. However, the coronal regions with the strongest magnetic fields are directly above the sunspots where the corona is coolest.
More Recent Data
An article (Inside Sunspots: New View Solves Old Puzzle by Robert Roy Britt) in the Nov. 6, 2002 edition of Space.com gives some results of the most recent sunspot measurements, made by the SOHO satellite along with explanations and concerns of a few of the involved scientists.
“The new view inside sunspots, provided by instruments onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), shows a previously unseen process. The Michaelson Doppler Interferometer shows plasma in sunspots zooming toward the center of the Sun at 3,000 mph, creating a siphon of sorts that reins in the magnetic fields.” Members of the research team offered the following hypotheses:
“Magnetic fields in sunspots are known to prevent the heat that’s generated deep within the Sun from rising to the surface. So the plasma in a sunspot is cooler than plasma on the surrounding surface of the Sun. Since the sunspot plasma is cooler, it is heavier, and it plunges downward. That draws the surrounding plasma and magnetic field inward toward the sunspot’s center … The concentrated field promotes further cooling and sinking flow and draws in still more material. This sets up a self-maintaining cycle of material circulation.”
More recently additional evidence has been provided by the Transition Region And Coronal Explorer (TRACE) spacecraft. It is in the form of a video clip showing several waving shadows approaching the Sun after the eruption of a Coronal Mass Expulsion (CME) event. Quoting Edward Deluca of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and co-author of an upcoming Astrophysical Journal report on TRACE’s observations:
“… other instruments have previously spotted the curious, dark globules, which were first noticed in January 1999. After the initial discovery, researchers scrutinized old data, finding about 40 other events dating back to 1991. But TRACE’s detection of the tadpoles marks the first ever for a high-resolution satellite. This is the best view yet of these enigmatic shapes, TRACE’s close-up ultraviolet view of the tadpoles occurred on April 21, 2002, during a coronal mass ejection (CME). Tadpoles have been seen in association with about 20 percent of CMEs. ”
The tadpole feature has perplexed astronomers, because such gigantic explosions should be propelling material outward, yet these black blobs are retreating toward the sun at up to 400 miles a second. But the TRACE data, which observes in ultraviolet light at 1.5 million and 10 million degrees Celsius, have helped scientists unravel the mystery behind these formerly enigmatic features..
Long before the latest SOHO finding, it seemed logical to me that sunspots were caused by the impacts of large bodies into the Sun’s surface. Naively, one can imagine a ‘shell’ of large bodies in Sun-grazing orbits at all ecliptin longitudes with periods of 11.8 to 11.3 years, and an inclination that would result in their striking the Sun between 30 degrees north and south latitude. Some of their orbits would decay on each pass and cause them to impact the Sun. Also they would be expected to be retarded by the solar atmosphere on approach, creating pairs or clusters of sunspots. The recent findings, that the gas at the surface of the Sun is diving down into the Sun at 3,000 mph, strongly reinforces this notion. But there are two problems with this hypothesis. First, although the velocity of the ‘tadpoles’ is consistent with an origin at Jupiter’s orbit, the period of such bodies would only be about four years, far from the sunspot period. Second, it is difficult to imagine the enormous number of bodies in similar orbits that could produce the myriads of sunspots recorded over the last century. However, I suggest that the close correspondence of Jupiter’s period of revolution around the Sun and the sunspot periodicity cannot be mere coincidence.
There is a facet of my recent catastrophism scenario which suggests a solution to this mystery – one which could never be imagined under the current uniformitarian paradigm. It originates from the suggestion in several myths, e.g. that Pallas Athene (proto-Venus) was born out of Jupiter ‘fully armored with a spear,’ implying an incandescent linear feature was seen at that time (4,000 BC.). This, combined with a drawing of a large jet shooting out of Jupiter in a ninth century AD arabic document, in Figure 2, suggests that the impact on Jupiter, out of which proto-Venus was born, continued to produce a highly directed jet of hot gases for more than four millennia. It is manifested today by the most prominent feature on Jupiter, the Great Red Spot. The jet, which originally extended hundreds of thousands of kilometers from Jupiter, encompassing all four Galilean moons, gradually diminished to the point that it could no longer eject mass from Jupiter, around 1932. In fact, investigators from Oxford University, studying data returned by the NASA Galileo NIMS instrument, have recently detected the remnant of the jet at the center of the GRS. This is described at http://www.planetary.org/html/news/articlearchive/headlines/1998/headln-033198.html, as follows:
“Jupiter has high winds, and a large number of very large, very long-lived storm systems can be seen on the planet at any one time. The most famous of these is the Great Red Spot (GRS), which is revealed as having a most remarkable structure in the new data.
Most astronomers believed GRS was a deep mass of cloud. Instead, it has a spiral arm structure of clouds, with gaps between which enable NIMS to see through the GRS into the deep, relatively clear atmosphere below. Futhermore, the cloud structure is higher in the center by more than 10 kilometers and tilted toward one side, something like a crooked spiral staircase.
What seems to be happening is that wet air from the deep atmosphere is rising rapidly in a relatively narrow region in the center of the GRS, and then spraying out above the tops of the ammonia clouds while rotating, rather like a giant garden sprinkler.”
The hugh crater on Jupiter implied by the highly directional jet, was due to the impact of a large fast-moving body, possibly from outside the solar system, on the solid methane gas hydrate body of Jupiter. This jet of hot gases has contributed the following features to the solar system we observe today: (1) It supplied the outer layers of the four Galilean moons, in the millennia after the proto-moons formed from material ejected into Jovian orbits at the time of the great impact, 6,000 years ago. (2) The great heat of the jet gases combined with the strong radiation field surrounding Jupiter after the impact, accounts for the great differences in the makeup of the four Galilean moons. (3) Its gases coalsced to form the main-belt asteroids; (4) The hot gases still rising from the crater are responsible for the Jovian temperature excess and zonal wind bands; (5) The total mass ejected from the Jovian system by the jet, over six millennia, has slowed the rotation of the giant planet from its initial period of about one hour (calculated by Fred Hoyle, The Cosmogony of the Solar System) to its current period of almost ten hours. Evidence of the ‘tail end’ of this deceleration is available in the records of the GRS circulation periods, Fig. 3, measured relative to the present (assumed constant) rate. As can be seen in the figure the ejection of mass from Jupiter ended around 1930.
The total energy released at the time of the impact, which was sufficient to eject as much as two Venus-sized masses from the system, was about 10^41 ergs, but the energy required to slow the rotation of the massive Jupiter is of the order of 10^43 ergs. I attribute this extraordinary energy and the great longevity of the jet to a massive nuclear fusion explosion triggered by the instantaneous increase in temperature to over 100 million degrees and a long term energy being released from a nuclear conflagration in the crater fueled by closely packed deuterium and hydrogen, from essentially water, that comprises the body of the giant planet.
What happened to all the material ejected with escape velocity as Jupiter whirled, which did not become incorporated into the Galilean satellites and the main-belt asteroids? As the hot gases cooled they accreted to form unique solid bodies in the weightlessness of interplanetary space. These are dark, low density, hydrated cinder-like bodies comprising the full variety of heavy elements imbedded in the bulk of Jupiter. Except for the material ejected to form the extant terrestrial planets, satellites and asteroids, the solid methane gas hydrates comprising the solid bulk of Jupiter encapsulate all the heavy elements present in the solar system. (This is why the average density of Jupiter is 1.33 while that of Saturn is close to the density of pure methane gas hydrate, 0.88.) As a result, the asteroids each contain a small complement of heavy elements, including nickel and iron in addition to the water. Because they coalesced from hot gas while still within the magnetic field of Jupiter they posses remnant magnetism, just as has been observed of the main belt asteroids.
Those ejected in the forward direction of Jupiter’s orbital motion, i.e. with greater orbital velocities became the main belt asteroids and Kuiper Belt bodies. The low densities (1 gm/cm^3) and magnetism of several main belt asteroids and also Almathea are consistent with this hypothesis. Scientists attribute the low densities of these bodies to their being loosely bound ‘rubble piles’, i.e. without structural rigidity, but those imaged close-up look quite rigid, like potatoes with convex shapes. Also, the current consensus is that the main belt asteroids are ancient and have been subjected to collisional breakup, but this would result in sharp angled surfaces, which have not been observed. I maintain that at least one entire class (C-type) of main belt asteroids, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, was formed from the Jovian jet in the last 6,000 years. The other class and the 50-some small satellites of Jupiter, probably formed from the debris blasted from Jupiter at the time of the original impact, which failed to become incorporated into proto-Venus. Based on the Sloan Digital Survey data there are estimated to be some 700,000 main belt asteroids with diameters greater than 1 km. They are characterized by low to moderate inclinations, as would be expected from their ejection in the direction 20 degrees below the equator of Jupiter. The large range of inclinations is also an indication of their relative youth, since their orbital inclinations should have been reduced to zero within 100,000 years, similar to the rings of Saturn.
But those bodies ejected in the opposite direction from Jupiter’s orbital velocity or toward the Sun, were injected into orbits that pass close to the Sun. The combination of -20 degree S. latitude orientation of the GRS with the 1.3 degree inclination of Jupiter’s orbit and the 3.1 degree obliquity of its spin axis could result in orbits of the ejected bodies ranging from 24 to 16 degrees relative to the ecliptic. But the range of sunspot latitudes on the Sun is from -30 to + 30 degrees. This is because the equator of the Sun is tilted at about 7.5 degrees to the ecliptic. Therefore the maximum solar latitudes of the asteroid impacts would be approximately 31.5. Since each asteroid must pass through the plane of the ecliptic at perihelion, it is obvious that the impact of a specific body would be equally probable at the same northern or southern latitude. This is determined by the side of their perihelion on which they impact. Because there are no permanent markings and because of our inability to observe the far side of the Sun, this diagram does not convey the longitude at which the impacts occur.
Jupiter expelled millions of high eccentricity asteroids as it orbited the Sun for the last 6,000 years. These orbit the Sun at all azimuths. Fortunately, their inclination, of the order of 22.5 degrees, the latitude of the GRS, prevent their impacting on the inner planets. The asteroid orbits gradually decay at a relatively constant rate. A sunspot cycle begins when the orbits of some asteroids expelled around Jupiter’s perihelion decay and impact the ‘near-side’ of the Sun. Because they have the smaller perihelion distances their eccentricities cause them to strike the Sun at higher latitudes. Since the asteroid orbits cross the plane of the solar system at perihelion, they are equally likely to impact on the northern or southern hemisphere. The cycle proceeds as the orbits of asteroids with greater and greater perihelion distances decay and strike the Sun more toward the ‘far side’ and therefore closer and closer to its equator. Those with even greater perihelion distances overshoot the Sun at which time the butterfly diagram shows no further impacts.
The difference between Jupiter’s period (11.86 earth years) and the average sunspot cycle (11.3 years), is due primarily to a reduction of the asteroids aphelions by drag in the solar corona, on orbits preceding their impacts on the Sun. This retardation is consistent with the localized, non-thermal heating of the corona to millions of degrees. Moreover, the material that comprises the solar corona is due to the material ablated from millions of smaller bodies falling toward the Sun. Yohkoh images (Figure 4) and SOHO’s ultraviolet spectra of these regions provide clear evidence for their non-thermal nature, strongly implying heat deposition by fast moving bodies. In some ways scientists are leaning toward this explanation. Quoting from an article summarizing data on the solar corona (Science, 285, 6 Aug1999, p.849):
“In the Yohkoh images one sees only the hottest part of the corona. SOHO’s ultraviolet spectra of these regions have provided clear evidence for nonthermality. The Yohkoh images thus probably show the approximate locations of heat deposition in the corona.” (My emphasis.)
Essential to my entire hypothesis, is the thesis that water, in the form of gas hydrates, is the primary constituent of Jupiter and Saturn, with the corollary that the giant planets are extremely cold. This is implied by the high concentration of water on Europa, Ganymede and Calypso and the large satellites of Saturn. The NASA Galileo atmospheric probe measured very little water in the Jovian atmosphere, not because of the absence of water comprising the planet, but due to the fact that it is all frozen in the solid gas hydrate. (The full reasoning is available in the paper entitled “A New Paradigm for the Jovian System,” on my website.) This implies that the asteroids impacting the Sun contain plenty of water, thus explaining the strong spectral signal of water measured within sunspots. When these bodies impact the Sun they propel the surface gases downward at the same time they are being vaporized, leaving the surface cooler, darker and full of water molecules. But the great orbital kinetic energy is not merely absorbed by the Sun. The gases around edge of the point of impact are splashed outward similar to the way an impact on a rocky surface ejects material. The impacts splash material from the surface of the Sun producing the so-called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). The impacts leave their mark on the Sun in the form of a relatively stable local circulation pattern, like a smoke-ring or inverted Hadley cell, explaining the lifetime of sunspots, which can be weeks and the brightening of the surrounding area..
The video clip made from TRACE images, a still photo from which is shown in Figure 5, further corroborates my hypothesis. It can be viewed on the internet at: http://www.physlink.com/News/041603SolarTadpoles.cfm. The initial scene
shows a quiescent area of the sun’s surface. Because the background is dark it is not possible to see the primary asteroid as it impacts the Sun from the upper right, but the primary impact light up the entire scene. This makes it possible to see the less massive pieces which broke off from the primary asteroid and were retarded in the solar atmosphere. Some of these bodies may also strike the surface, producing smaller sunspots around the primary one, as shown in Figure 6. It appears in the film clip that the same hot plasma produced by the impact of the primary asteroid, which makes the secondaries visible, may also increase the chances that they become vaporized. The vaporization of the less massive secondaries causes the cooler, darker streamers, named ‘tadpoles.’
Depending on the location of the impacts, the CME waves of high velocity charged particles often propagate outward and enter the magnetic field of the Earth, spiraling into the poles and creating the Aurora Borealis. True, the most intense solar flares can incapacitate communication networks and power grids, but I maintain that the more normal electromagnetic impulses perform several functions vital for life on Earth. The obvious effect is in warming the Earth. From historical records and the ingenuity of a number of researchers it has been ascertained that there was a 70-year dearth of sunspots and aurora in the 17th & 18th century, referred to as the Maunder Minimum. At that same time in history, a severe temperature drop was recorded anecdotally. During that period, so-called “Frost Festivals” were held on the Seine river which was frozen solid in those years. This was the only period that the Seine river froze solidly. Recently, solar activity has been correlated with temperatures on Earth on both century and decadel time scales. The CMEs which strike the Earth also ‘pump-up’ the superconducting flow of current in the solid core by Faraday induction. Positive and negative particles spiraling into the poles in opposite directions, so that their effects are additive.
As mentioned above, the asteroids from Jupiter each contain a small complement of heavy elements, including nickel and iron. Because they coalesced from hot gas while still within the magnetic field of Jupiter they posses remnant magnetism, just as do the main belt asteroids. When they strike the surface of the Sun, this magnetism can be detected in the resulting sunspots by earth telescopes using spectroscopy and polarimetry. The impacts display a systematic N-S arrangement induced by the magnetic dipole field of the Sun. As they approach, with their south poles become oriented toward the north magnetic pole of the Sun. That is, their orientation opposes the dipole polarity of the Sun. At the peak of the impacts, the so-called ‘solar maximum’, so much opposing magnetic flux is delivered to the Sun, that its dipole field is overwhelmed and flips. See the following article: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast15feb_1/
This is beautifully illustrated in a magnetic butterfly diagram, originated by David Hathaway of NASA Marshall, shown in Figure 7. The magnetic fields at mid-latitudes represent the influx due to the impacting asteroids, while the magnetic fields at the very top and bottom show the dipole field of the Sun. Note that the dipole field is overwhelmed at the maximum of asteroid input flux and becomes reversed at that time.
Astrophysicists currently believe that all this activity, i.e. sunspots and magnetic fields, are generated from within the Sun, but they have great difficulty in explaining how the dipole field could originate in the interior, due to the high temperature and outward flux of energy, which would not allow the required circulation. Equally puzzling is how such a circulation could be reversed every eleven years. This paper explains the Sun’s dipole magnetic field as superficial – merely due to the influx of magnetized asteroids – little pieces of Jupiter’s magnetic field, and is not generated in the Sun’s interior. This also explains why astronomers have difficulty finding other stars with magnetic fields. Once the flux of asteroids becomes depleted, the Sun’s magnetic field will probably disappear completely.
The proposed sunspot hypothesis explains: (a) the downward motion of the surface material and its velocity; (b) the cooling of the umbra material; (c) the presence of large amounts of water in sunspots; (d) the periodicity of the sunspots and the butterfly diagram; (e) the origin of the Coronal Mass Ejections; (f) the makeup of the solar corona and its high non-thermal temperature; and (g) the origin of the Sun’s magnetic ‘dipole’ field and its reversal.
It is particularly ironic that the scientists continue to given animal names, such as ‘tadpoles’ to observed physical phenomenon. This was, of course, exactly what our ancient predecessors did when they named the heavenly bodies in ancient myth – the same myths on which this new catastrophism hypothesis is based. The irony is that this is the property of the myths, which cause ‘conventional’ scientists to reject their validity as scientific evidence.
The sudden introduction of 10^43 ergs into the solar system 6,000 years BP has profound implications for ancient history and planetary science. Only a few of them are touched on in this paper. Until the catastrophic scenario is acknowledged, making possible the discussion of the many new ideas, instead of their outright dismissal, the potential knowledge of our world and the planets, already present in the data, will remain hostage. The longer we look out into the universe, the more aware we must become that it is a violent and changing place. To assume our system is immune is sheer folly.