Oddball solar plage area

Yesterday I lamented that the sun was blank, not only on the SOHO MDI, but also the magnetogram.  Within a couple of hours, one sunspeck appeared. I cited Murphy’s Law. As one commenter put it: ” I think if you check back for the last six months or so whenever you mention the lack of sunspots on here, one shows up.”.

Perhaps if I stop writing about the lack of sunspots, a grand minimum will appear. Such power I wield. 😉

The plage area now has no characteristics of a classic spot as you can see on the MDI, but it did yesterday ever so faintly as you can see in a previous MDI image here.

solar_mdi_0322

It is rather faint. It is doubtful that pre 20th century astronomers would see it.

NASA’s Dr. Tony Philips, who runs Spaceweather.com also got sucked in by the spotlessness yesterday and wrote this today:

Where have all the sunspots gone? As of yesterday, March 21st, the sun has been blank on 85% of the days of 2009. If this rate of spotlessness continues, 2009 will match 1913 as the blankest year of the past century. A flurry of new-cycle sunspots in Oct. 2008 prompted some observers to declare that solar minimum was ending, but since then the calm has returned. We are still in the pits of a deep solar minimum.

Coincidences and commentary aside, the plage group that appeared shortly after these two posts yesterday is an oddball to be sure. Have a look at the magentogram:

solar_magnetogram_0322

It has the classic high latitude of an SC24 spot, but reversed polarity.

Jan Janssens writes:

” 22 March 09 – New SC24-group has reversed polarity… – The new sunspotgroup that is visible in today’s SOHO-images, has -according to the corresponding magnetogram- a reversed polarity (SC23/25). Though on itself this is not so peculiar (every solar cycle has about hundred such groups, or about 3% of the total), it is already the second SC24-group showing this “aberration”: NOAA 1003, visible for just one day (04 October 2008) on the southern hemisphere (-23°), had a polarity equal to that of a unpair solar cycle too (see slide 4 of my presentation). That makes 2 out of 13 (15%), if this group gets a NOAA-number. ”

http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Engnieuwtjes.html#Zon

Compare the current magnetogram to one where a true SC24 spot did form on Feb 24th, 2009:

mdi_magnetogram_022409

The real question is: how long will it last? Most of the cycle 24 spots (and disturbances that don’t rise to spots) have very short lifetimes. Will this new one grow and be assigned a number? Or will it wink out?

We live in interesting times.

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Tom in South Jersey

Maybe the accidental report of the end of SC24 was correct. Perhaps it has come and gone and no one has noticed yet. Wouldn’t that be odd indeed?

Robert Wykoff

Lol!!! Murphies law has struck again. No sooner did you post this, I looked at solarcycle24.com. Within the last hour Kevin Posted that the Oddball spot has vanished!!
REPLY: I am the bringer of spots, destroyer of spots. The Battle of Spotsylvania continues. 😉
Anthony

Ron de Haan

We will call it the “Watts effect”.

Leon Brozyna

Damn you’re fast…
As I noted on yesterday’s post those twin specks are gone. What was it, twelve hours? So quick that SWPC & Catania never noted it and so the string of {official} spotless days continues; so much for the Watts Effect.

Douglas DC

This is cheery-as snow files out my window in NE Oregon.

Re: We live in interesting times.
Nonsense! We’ve long since passed into fascinating times. We’re doubly cursed.
BTW, why does the south pole look bigger than the north pole area? Perhaps it’s doing a somersault and will wind up with the “right” orientation. Perhaps the sun got a dose of south magnetic monopoles, that might explain all the strange happenings. 🙂

Ohioholic

“Perhaps if I stop writing about the lack of sunspots, a grand minimum will appear. Such power I wield. ;-)”
Ok, we need to look at your past writings, and their effects, and calculate a correlation coefficient. Also, we are going to need to create a model around the average amount of time between postings to tell us when to expect sunspots…..

Robert Rust

Is it possible that an “External Force” is present – and would like to point out that perhaps It’s in charge? How else might one explain the “Gore Effect”, and now the “Watt/Philips Effect”? The Gore Effect is much more fun to watch, I have to say.

Robert Wykoff (07:47:50) :
“Lol!!! Murphies law has struck again. No sooner did you post this, I looked at solarcycle24.com. Within the last hour Kevin Posted that the Oddball spot has vanished!!”
“REPLY: I am the bringer of spots, destroyer of spots. The Battle of Spotsylvania continues. 😉
Anthony”
Oh how I wish you were our Messiah living at 1600 Pensylvania Avenue, Washington DC and not BHO! Praise be to Anthony! Ha Ha!
Seriously, thank you very much Anthony for all that you do here.
markm

Jaime

Anthony is the Al Gore of solar spots! Whenever he says in public that we are in for a low solar activity phase and the proof is the lack of spots, a new spot appears. Of course new solar spots are also due to a low solar activity phase and has been predicted by his models.
REPLY: I have no models on this – Anthony

tony

Anthony (and others), have you seen this article by Nir Shaviv (http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2007JA012989.shtml) ?
abstract: Over the 11-year solar cycle, small changes in the total solar irradiance (TSI) give rise to small variations in the global energy budget. It was suggested, however, that different mechanisms could amplify solar activity variations to give large climatic effects, a possibility which is still a subject of debate. With this in mind, we use the oceans as a calorimeter to measure the radiative forcing variations associated with the solar cycle. This is achieved through the study of three independent records, the net heat flux into the oceans over 5 decades, the sea-level change rate based on tide gauge records over the 20th century, and the sea-surface temperature variations. Each of the records can be used to consistently derive the same oceanic heat flux. We find that the total radiative forcing associated with solar cycles variations is about 5 to 7 times larger than just those associated with the TSI variations, thus implying the necessary existence of an amplification mechanism, although without pointing to which one.

Ric Werme (08:02:51) :
BTW, why does the south pole look bigger than the north pole area?
Because the solar axis is not perpendicular to the plane of the Earth’s orbit, but is inclined 7.15 degrees from the right angle. another way of saying this is that the Sun’s equatorial plane makes an angle of 7.15 degrees with the plane of the Earth’s orbit, so for half a year we are below [south] the equatorial plane and see the south pole better [like right now – actually on March 7th we were the most south], and for the other half of the year we are above [north] of the equatorial plane and see the north pole better [best on September 7th].

Tony

An update is required; see http://solarcycle24.com/.

hareynolds

Anthony replied:
I am the bringer of spots, destroyer of spots. The Battle of Spotsylvania continues. 😉 Anthony
HEY my great uncle died at the Battle of Spotsylvania.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Spotsylvania_Court_House
Just kidding. He COULD have been there (from WEST Virginia), but chances are low.
OTOH, somebody from the OTHER side of the family (in Lee’s Army) might have.
In any case, I just thought I would practice pushing Political Correctness back a couple of generations. Under the current political “climate”, that could come in handy.
Re: The Watts Effect
(a) love the concept. Can we consider it part of the “lexicon”?
(b) Apparently, your power extends only to “specks”, not actual spots, so I wouldn’t get too proud of yourself quite yet. It is relatively impressive, however. Al Gore can only change the LOCAL climate for a few days; think of the energy you’re pushing around (terajoules?) even if they are only “specks”.

Jim G

Although if lots of spots are are associated with higher TSI,
maybe it should be the No-Watts effect….

John F. Hultquist

Doesn’t seem to me that data for the Gore Effect nor the Watt Effect satisfy the demands of normally distributed variables. You folks wanting to test these issues will have to drag out those old stat books and search for the appropriate non-parametric model.

Garacka

Douglas DC (07:55:35) :
“This is cheery-as snow files out my window in NE Oregon.”
Does the snow file in an orderly manner outside your window?
Where I live, snow always files in a disorderly manner 🙂

Gary

See Spot run. Run, Spot, run.

Tim L

I saw one tiny “tim” in 60 days.
The “Watts effect” is going solar system!
TX WUWT!

Robert Bateman

Could someone comment about the heavy tilt of the axis of the dipoles?
It curently (2009 03 22 13.25) sits at P.A. 140 (Postion Angle of Solar North Pole =0, clockwise to Solar South pole=180)?

Robert Bateman (10:16:07) :
Could someone comment about the heavy tilt of the axis of the dipoles?
Here is a study [see their Figure 1] that shows that the tilt can be anything:
http://www.ias.ac.in/jarch/jaa/21/149-153.pdf
There is a concentration of tilt towards about 5 degrees, but the tilt can easily go both ways [positive and negative], especially at higher latitudes [other studies show the latitude dependence].

Tom in Florida

New word: wattage
Definition: the amount of time (in minutes) that passes between an announcement by Anthony Wattts and the appearance of an opposite effect
Usage: What was the wattage of the last sun spot appearance? About 180.

Robert Bateman

There is a concentration of tilt towards about 5 degrees, but the tilt can easily go both ways [positive and negative], especially at higher latitudes [other studies show the latitude dependence]..
I’ll buy that, Leif. One look at the FWHM depicted by Fig 1 has stellar written all over it.

Robert Bateman

Omigosh.
4. Sunspot group tilt angle changes are correlated with polarity separation changes
(expansion or contraction), and is in the right direction, and of the correct
magnitude one would expect if Coriolis force is the agency responsible for causing
the tilt.
5. The average tilt angle for spot groups varies with solar cycle, being higher during
solar minimum periods than during maximum periods .

(If we take the following as true):
This variation in tilt angles
can be caused by variation in the field strengths of the sub surface toroidal flux
tubes, between the two phases of the cycle. A decrease in magnetic tension
because of the weaker field strengths in the rising flux tubes would offer less
resistance to the effect of the Coriolis force, which in turn tends to increase the tilt
angle of the spot groups that appear during the minimum years.

This is more than just interesting.
If we can find a highly tilted showing up in the same latitude as a 5degree tilted in a short timeframe , then it might imply a warbling or sputtering of field strengths, leading to temporary less resistance to Coriolis Force.
Even better, since we are in a very low ebb, it is possible to describe a war of sorts as a hopscotch pattern of 5 degree and heavliy tilted is going on.

Mike McMillan

Douglas DC (07:55:35) :
This is cheery – as snow files out my window in NE Oregon.

Garacka (09:50:55) :
Does the snow file in an orderly manner outside your window?
Where I live, snow always files in a disorderly manner 🙂

Close your window and turn off your air conditioning !
———-
I’ve seen these bright areas before, and I seem to recall they were usually sitting on the dark S magnetogram pole. Probably faulty memory.
When we’re talking about polarity in a cycle, is it that one pole is eastward/right/leading, or is the pole equatorward that determines the polarity, or maybe both? The current one shows both right and equatorward for the N pole.

Frederick Michael

OK, given the Gore effect and the Watts effect, all we need are models to predict where Gore will speak and what Anthony will write.
It seems fitting that these models should be involve extrapolating the trends. I’m sure I can find some pretty good fits. Anthony’s writings ought to fit a negative-binomial. Predicting Gore’s next location can’t be any harder then predicting where son-of-sam would strike next.
Should I try a journal first or just present at a conference? I’m sure I can get my employer to send me to the next ORSA/TIMS. If I use simulation, WinterSim is always fun.

yyzdnl

The problem with Murphy’s Law
If you wash your car it will rain, but if you wash your car to make it rain it surely won’t
Daniel

The Spot (Modified lyrics from The Blob by Burt Bacharach)
Beware of The spot, it creeps
And leaps and glides and slides
Across the floor
Right through the door
And all around the wall
A splotch, a blotch
Be careful of The spot…

Robert Bateman

If you buy the telescope of your dreams, it will surely rain the next 3 months.

Robert Bateman

Douglas DC (07:55:35) :
This is cheery – as snow files out my window in NE Oregon.
I might call this the Douglas DC effect, as snow flies out my window in NW California (Salmon Mts).
Brrrr!!!!

G.R. Mead

Well…. St. Anthony IS the patron saint of Lost Things …

Neo

After seeing “Knowing” over the weekend, I left wondering just how real the scenario was.

Robert Bateman (11:07:37) :
Omigosh.
4. Sunspot group tilt angle changes are correlated with polarity separation changes

What they are saying is just the well-known fact that the smaller the group [or the dipole] is, the larger and more variable the tilt is, for the smallest dipoles the tilt is almost completely random. Just go look at a magnetogram [perhaps find one a little while ago with some stuff on it] and note how disorganized the very smallest bipolar regions are. And this latest speck was small…

hareynolds

Jim G (09:45:13) said:
Although if lots of spots are are associated with higher TSI,
maybe it should be the No-Watts effect….
HOW ABOUT Wattlessness?
Tom in Florida (10:46:43) said :
New word: wattage
Definition: the amount of time (in minutes) that passes between an announcement by Anthony Wattts and the appearance of an opposite effect
Usage: What was the wattage of the last sun spot appearance? About 180.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE ORIGINAL CANNY WATT (The Scottish Steam Engine One) has that one sewn-up. Suggest Wattation (Wa-Tay-Shun). e.g. The average Wattation of spots in 2009 was 97.

Douglas DC

Okay flies-hadn’t coffee this a.m. 😉

Robert Bateman

Lief: I have never paid much attention to magnetograms until just recently.
2009/03/23 02:16 (SOHO) shows the white portion blown into an arc. Been seeing that a lot lately. Wonder if someone who has animated jpeg or gif skills/software can do one on the recent spate of plages/spots?
Maybe catch the dipole axis twisting, too.
Hey, this is a special time. We should expect the unexpected.

jgfox

The appearance of sunspots and disappearance of sunspots is clearly related to the observer effects of quantum mechanics.
The act of observing and commenting changes the reality of whether the spot is real or observer transient.
The deeper question is: does observing a spot and causing it to be “real” or “unreal” via entanglement cause spots on other suns to be “real” or “unreal”?
When we observe a “Climate Warming Gore” on our world, does this cause a “Global Cooling Gore” to occur on another world?

Robert Bateman (20:05:04) :
I have never paid much attention to magnetograms until just recently. 2009/03/23 02:16 (SOHO) shows the white portion blown into an arc.
Yes, this is actually quite common as a spot develops. All spots rotate to some degree. There are studies that show that the spots that lead to large flares are the ones with the most rotation and twisting.

savethesharks

Lief said: There are studies that show that the spots that lead to large flares are the ones with the most rotation and twisting.
Rotation…..twisting…..remind me of supercell thunderstorms. Interesting. The supercells that have the most rotation and twisting with height are the ones that produce the intense tornadoes.
Interesting parallel. Thanks for that bit of info, Doc.
Chris
Norfolk, VA

savethesharks (22:33:51) :
Rotation…..twisting…..remind me of supercell thunderstorms. Interesting. The supercells that have the most rotation and twisting with height are the ones that produce the …
Ken Schatten refers to a sunspot as an ‘ion-hurricane’

Robert Bateman

Would the ion hurricane blow the white portion into an arc?
Or would it be more like a volcano going off and the twisting wind carring the ash in an arc?
This looks more like a wave spreading out over a pond.
Tsunami on the Sun.
Really neat to watch.
One last week blew into 2 separate arcs that diverged from a common center and travelled quite some distance. All the while the black portion formed a bar at 90 degrees to the arcs.
2 kettles with 1 common lid blown off.
Forget the darn specks, this is where it’s at. Lights, camera, action.

Robert Bateman (20:05:04) :
….. I have never paid much attention to magnetograms until just recently…….

Variable magnetism is in most cases product of electric currents (synchronous movement of charged particles), and there is lot of variable magnetism in the solar activity, and yet we are told there are no electric current flows there. ! ?

gary gulrud

“yet we are told there are no electric current flows there. ! ?”
As with Calcutta’s cooking-fuel dung patties placed on the wall to dry: Some stick, some fall off.

gary gulrud (06:01:35) :
“yet we are told there are no electric current flows there. ! ?”
As with Calcutta’s cooking-fuel dung patties placed on the wall to dry: Some stick, some fall off.

Ones that stick count and for the rest omnia nihil sunt et reliqua minoris

Robert Bateman

Gary: That’s not saying much for the amount that is supposed to be feeding the fan.

vukcevic (04:40:04) :
Variable magnetism is in most cases product of electric currents (synchronous movement of charged particles), and there is lot of variable magnetism in the solar activity, and yet we are told there are no electric current flows there. ! ?
The high conductivity of the Sun and interplanetary medium [combined with the large scale] short circuits electrical currents, resulting in flares and other manifestations of the failure of currents to be sustained. For a current to flow you, paradoxically perhaps, need resistivity [otherwise you just short the circuit. The frozen-in condition that allows the solar wind to drag the sun’s magnetic field out into space is just a consequence of the irrelevance of currents. Currents occur at thin boundaries between magnetic domains and are subordinate to the magnetic field. To drive a current you need an e.m.f. and in the Sun that means a time-dependent magnetic field which can produce a circulating electric field. A time-dependent magnetic field can be produced by motion of magnetic fields. Motions of solar plasma is thermally driven [modified via the Coriolis force by solar rotation].

Leif Svalgaard (09:30:15) :
vukcevic (04:40:04) :
……..For a current to flow you, paradoxically perhaps, need resistivity [otherwise you just short the circuit.

As an engineer I do not entirely concur. Super conductivity is an example where resistance is not required. Variable magnetic fields and electric currents are inseparable, one cannot exist without the other. If charged particles’ spin is to produce consistent magnetic field, has to be of same orientation, which consequently will result in the particles flow along the resultant or an external magnetic field.
If the Sun did not have steady currents flow in its interior then its dynamo, or two dynamos (?!) if you whish, could not exist.

savethesharks

Lief wrote: “There are studies that show that the spots that lead to large flares are the ones with the most rotation and twisting.”
“Motions of solar plasma is thermally driven [modified via the Coriolis force by solar rotation].”
Forgive me for maybe over-simplifying this to meteorological terms, but the “rotating sunspots produce the MOST solar flares” idea is fascinating.
Kid in a candy store here, but humor me:
In supercell thunderstorms, the entire mesocyclone rotates, and that can be easily seen on radar. This rotation helps produce the largest, most destructive and long-lived tornadoes on Earth.
With the Coriolis Force at work on the Sun > also causing the “supercell” [LOL for lack of a better word] sunspots to twist and rotate > which serve as a mechanism > to help launch giant solar plasma tornadoes > but in the “opposite” direction > out into space.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/05/28/2258141.htm
Heh heh like I said forgive me if I am being simplistic in trying to make a connection between the too but this is damn fascinating.
Chris
Norfolk, VA

vukcevic (10:16:07) :
If the Sun did not have steady currents flow in its interior then its dynamo, or two dynamos (?!) if you whish, could not exist.
You are confusing several things [spin, pairing, …].
There are plasma flows [not large-scale currents] in the solar interior driving the dynamo, but the plasma is electrically neutral. To drive an electrical current in the solar interior you need a voltage difference [and spin and superconductivity do not apply here], that is a separation of charges and to drive large-scale currents you need one part of the Sun [or even the solar system] to be charged relative to another part with the opposite charge, and you need something to separate the charges to prevent them from shorting immediately [because of the high conductivity]. If you have two magnetic fields of opposite polarity close together and enough charged particles free to move you can get a current by particles gyrating in opposite directions right at the boundary between the fields [like in the heliospheric current sheet and the Earth’s plasmasheet in the magnetospheric tail], but the current is a consequence of the field and the particles present, not the other way around.

savethesharks

CORRECTION: I said “In supercell thunderstorms, the entire mesocyclone rotates.”
I MEANT to say “In supercell thunderstorms, the entire cell rotates [a mesocyclone]…
Haha a “rotating mesocyclone” is a little redundant, don’t you think?