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Sunspot poses a threat for M-class solar flares


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20051116-1336.JPG

This is SOHO 195A view of the same event a few days ago.

20051116-2324.JPG

Here's a view from about 24 hours ago.

20051116-2324COLOR.JPG

I have outlined the path the arcs are traveling in blue and red and I've circled the locations on the surface that are experiencing severe electrical errosion at the moment. The colored arcs show the path of the coronal loops/arcs as they travel through the atmosphere. The circled areas are the areas along the surface where the arcs originate. These areas a "hot" in relationship to the surrounding areas and the umbra is being heated by the electrical activity and it's rising through the umbra to create the sunspot. It's not really the sunspot that we have to worry about, but what is going on under the sunspot that poses a threat. If the surface fractures, we'll see a CME, otherwise it will just pass right on by and shower us with increased electrical activity as it passes. That is my interpretation anyway. :clouds1:

By the way, all the image posted come from the raw data archive files (marked DIT) located here:

http://lasco-www.nrl.navy.mil/daily_mpg/?C=N;O=A

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Keep in mind that M-Class flares are not particularly dangerous. The Earth's magnetic field should shield us nicely. Plus, the mostly light shielding of the hull of the ISS will protect the astronauts easily.

Michael, you're getting closer. The arcs you outline are magnetic in nature and show plasma following the magnetic field lines. You can see the same patterns in the hydrogen alpha image at the top, too. You're right on the money about the "threat" being under the sunspot. The rest..... :?

Oh, it may be easier to see for the less experienced if you showed the EIT image without the differencing. Try the 171 A of iron IX or 304 A of helium II instead.

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Keep in mind that M-Class flares are not particularly dangerous. The Earth's magnetic field should shield us nicely. Plus, the mostly light shielding of the hull of the ISS will protect the astronauts easily.

You are correct, we are heavily shielded. :clouds1:

fMichael, you're getting closer. The arcs you outline are magnetic in nature and show plasma following the magnetic field lines. You can see the same patterns in the hydrogen alpha image at the top, too. You're right on the money about the "threat" being under the sunspot. The rest..... :?

Those magnetic field lines are due to the flow of electricity through iron ions. I know it's iron because that is what SOHO and TRACE are "tuned" to see. I can even explain why the fields stay constrained as they do, and "snap" when they snap. :clouds1:

The hydrogen alpha emissions are coming from the same electrical arcs as the iron. This is where neutrons decay into hydrogen atoms and emit light in the process. Same arcs, two different wavelengths. In fact SXT images also show light from these same arcs. Lots of light comes from these arcs. You can see the same "structures" in hydrogen alpha emissions because these ions loop along the same arcs and follow the same surface contours.

If and when the surface cracks at the bases of these large arcs, we'll get blasted, otherwise, it won't be that big of a deal. Either way we have pretty good shielding down here on earth. :clouds1:

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20051117-2312.JPG

Here's a more current look at the area in question. I circled the area that is experiencing the most intense activity. The white area in the center of the circle is part of the top of an intensely powerful arc. The areas in the circled region are the most electrically active, and represent the areas that are most likely to produce a coronal mass ejection (CME). It's hard to say whether or not this intense activity will result in a surface failure that generates a CME on this side of the sun, but the intensity of the activity in that area would lead me to believe that there will be a CME from this location sooner or later, probably along the left side of the circle.

For whatever reason the TRACE imaging system was not focused on this area in the 171, 195 or 284 filters yesterday. After work, I will see if there are any closeup images of this location today in the Trace FITS files using any of the iron filters. SOHO is good from the overview perspective, but TRACE allows for closeup images of the surface features in these locations, which are particularly clear in 171A running difference images like this closeup movie of a CME.

http://trace.lmsal.com/POD/movies/T171_000828.avi

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Michael,

You're still talking as if the Sun has a solid surface and features represent electric flow. This is not the case. The abundance of iron *ions* in the solar atmosphere is 49 atoms of iron for every 1,000,000 atoms of hydrogen. This fact appears in one of the books I posted yesterday. (Nearest Star by Pasachoff.) "Surface failures" are not the source of CME's. The mechanism is not well understood, which should be remedied by the STEREO mission, but "cracks" are not it. It's more like a magnetically propelled "explosion", though that's a poor analogy compared to what's actually occuring. The difference images are probably not the best way to visualize what's happening. The processes EIT images or H-Alpha images give a nice view because they show surrounding features that may contribute to the understanding of local conditions.

Here's a more current look at the area in question. I circled the area that is experiencing the most intense activity. The white area in the center of the circle is part of the top of an intensely powerful arc. The areas in the circled region are the most electrically active, and represent the areas that are most likely to produce a coronal mass ejection (CME). It's hard to say whether or not this intense activity will result in a surface failure that generates a CME on this side of the sun, but the intensity of the activity in that area would lead me to believe that there will be a CME from this location sooner or later, probably along the left side of the circle.

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mossyohkoh.jpg

While not an image of this particular event, this is a very useful composite image that was created using the Yohkoh satellite (yellow) combined with the view from the Trace satellite (blue). If you'd like a more 3D view of what is going on from a top down perspective, this image shows the heat signatures of the coronal loops/arcs as they travel from the surface below, through the photosphere and into the corona. As the arcs reach the corona, they pick up heat and emit soft xrays that are visible to Yohkoh.

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Michael,

You're still talking as if the Sun has a solid surface and features represent electric flow. This is not the case. The abundance of iron *ions* in the solar atmosphere is 49 atoms of iron for every 1,000,000 atoms of hydrogen. This fact appears in one of the books I posted yesterday. (Nearest Star by Pasachoff.) "Surface failures" are not the source of CME's. The mechanism is not well understood, which should be remedied by the STEREO mission, but "cracks" are not it. It's more like a magnetically propelled "explosion", though that's a poor analogy compared to what's actually occuring. The difference images are probably not the best way to visualize what's happening. The processes EIT images or H-Alpha images give a nice view because they show surrounding features that may contribute to the understanding of local conditions.

Well Astroman, I respect your right to disagree with my assessment, but saying "The mechanism is not well understood,...but cracks are not it", simply doesn't offer me a serious alternative to consider. It's only half an answer, in fact it not even an answer, it's more of a statement of faith without any explanation offered. The magnetic fields are there because electricity is running through iron plasma. That electrical flow is what generates the electromagnetic fields so close to the surface. H-alpha emissions are also occuring in the electrical arc, since this is where hydrogen is being produced, as solids are ionized into plasma, release neutrons which then decay into hydrogen atoms, probably releasing H-Alpha photons in the process. The flow of this hydrogen gas to the surface of the chromosphere causes the plasma to mass separate.

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Michael,

Please read any one of the books I posted in the Learning Zone before claiming there is no "serious alternative to consider". There are decades and volumes of research on the subject with "alternatives".

But Astroman, I respect that you have read these books, yet you yourself said "The mechanism is not well understood". That is the state of affairs in gas model theory as it relates to satellite images. I have no such problem explaining these images using a solid surface model.

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Perhaps I should have said, "perfectly well understood".  As you mentioned, the source is well below the sunspot or active region.  What happens once a CME begins is quite well understood.  Only the trigger mechanism remains to be completely explained.  Since your solid shell theory is clearly impossible, it can not possibly explain the trigger mechanism.  If the iron surface is not there, it simply can not "rupture" to unleash a CME.

I could explain what's happening in sunspots and the nature of the plasma that flows over them and the magnetic phenomena associated with them.  But that's why we have books, written by professionals to explain them.  No matter what I say in relaying the facts as studied by the pros for decades, it takes their authority, and the acceptance of their theories to put any credibility to them.  If you want in depth explanations, go to the source.  While the information I give will be accurate to the best of my ability, it may not be as complete as you seek, given that I'm trying to explain it to not only you, but others on this forum that may not be as "experienced" as you and I.

If you care to discuss any "holes" in the current model, please become familiar with it first.  I highly recommend "Nearest Star" as the most up to date and easily understood book that I've personally read.

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Perhaps I should have said, "perfectly well understood". As you mentioned, the source is well below the sunspot or active region.

Then according to you and I, Lockheed Martin and NASA are wrong since they claim this active layer is above the visible photosphere. If you believe this behavior is even "moderately" explainable using gas model theory, please feel free to do so.

What happens once a CME begins is quite well understood.

Really? Is a real life CME "understood" to the point the images can be explained using gas model theory, or is the "theory" just understood? In other words is there observational support for the idea? What creates the CME's and what causes them to blow? Can you show any evidence of the validity of your explaination using satellite images?

Only the trigger mechanism remains to be completely explained.

I don't think the magnetic field around the coronal loops is even completely explained in gas model theory. What is holding the magnetic field in place around these loops if not electricity?

Since your solid shell theory is clearly impossible, it can not possibly explain the trigger mechanism. If the iron surface is not there, it simply can not "rupture" to unleash a CME.

So really, you just "assume" it's "impossible", so therefore it must be impossible? If you'll notice, the first paper Dr. Manuel and I published together predicted a stratified layer at a very shallow depth under the photosphere. Two weeks later this prediction ws confirmed by Stanford. That stratification between .97R and .995R is there and has been confirmed.

I could explain what's happening in sunspots and the nature of the plasma that flows over them and the magnetic phenomena associated with them. But that's why we have books, written by professionals to explain them.

So in other words, it's just TOO complicated for the average person to understand? When does the Occum's razor arguement come into play here? I can explain all these images in great detail, with or without any books, and anyone and everyone can understand them as well. What makes the gas model "better" exactly?

No matter what I say in relaying the facts as studied by the pros for decades, it takes their authority, and the acceptance of their theories to put any credibility to them.

This is really just an appeal to authority fallacy. Sure, they COULD be right, but there is no guarantee they are right, and you just agreed that the transitional layer is below the photosphere, whereas Lockheed and NASA claim it's on top of the photosphere. Who is the authority then, you or them?

If you want in depth explanations, go to the source. While the information I give will be accurate to the best of my ability, it may not be as complete as you seek, given that I'm trying to explain it to not only you, but others on this forum that may not be as "experienced" as you and I.

Again, this is simply an appeal to authority. Many scientific discoveries were made by "amateurs" like myself. I've talked to all the so called "experts" in satellite imagery at NASA and Lockheed and Stanford, and they don't have any better answers than anyone else, and much of it is a "guess". The STEREO satellite system will allow us to confirm the location of the transition layer in relationship to the photosphere. When it shows us that the transitional region is beneath the photosphere rather than on top of it as NASA and Lockheed claim, THEN will you believe me?

If you care to discuss any "holes" in the current model, please become familiar with it first. I highly recommend "Nearest Star" as the most up to date and easily understood book that I've personally read.

I have read many books and many articles related to satellite imagery. If you believe based on these books that there is a scientifically "better" explanation for these images than the one I have offered, please put it on the table so we can evaluate both ideas fairly.

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UPDATE

18 Nov 05

Sunspot 822 remains active, producing daily M-class solar flares. So far none of the explosions has hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Earth. As a result, auroras are therefore unlikely during the next 36 to 48 hours.

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Astroman / Michael

Gents, the Sun is obviously a passionate subject for you both, unfortunately you are on opposite sides of a fence when it comes to the theories of how our star works. For the majority of people on this forum, the technicalities of the theories are way over our heads. We fully respect the time and effort you guys have put into your research and understandings, and it's good that these things should be debated in open, however, I think the clash in personalities is starting to come through the discussions.

We don't want to have to lock another thread, we would prefer to keep these discussions going, but on a professional level. Progression of science has always challenged the "current views", we know this through our own readings of astronomical history, and no doubt the scholars of the past had go through similar debates in their time. So, I am asking you two for a favour:

1 post each outlining the main points of your views/theories/understandings - one from Astroman on the gas model, one from Michael on the solid shell (forgive me if this is not the correct term).

Us mere mortals can then read them both, and ask questions as appropriate, in the the correct thread.

Is this fair?

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20051120-2312.JPG

Well, it looks like we aren't going to get blasted this time round, but I suspect this electrical configuration will persist for quite some time and could certainly come around again. :clouds1:

The electrical activity along the surface puts heat into the sun's atmosphere. The sunspot we see is caused by the silicon umbra being heated from the electical arcs we see in these RAW EIT image. As the silicon is heated up, it rises, and ultimately rises up through the neon penumbral filaments. As the the rising silicon reaches the helium layer, it flares out, and ulmately falls back through the penumbral filaments and sinks back into it's own layer. During CME's however, we can sometimes see increadible electrical activity that can drive these iron/silicon arcs well out into space. One of the largest such eruptions took place in 1945.

http://science.nasa.gov/ssl/pad/solar/images/granddaddy.mpg

Often times the material from these arcs falls back into the atmosphere and appear as a sort of "rain" in many of the 171 and 195 movies.

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