New insights into the solar magnetic dynamo

From NASA/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

NASA: Understanding the magnetic sun

magnetic-sun

(Illustration) This comparison shows the relative complexity of the solar magnetic field between January 2011 (left) and July 2014. In January 2011, three years after solar minimum, the field is still relatively simple, with open field lines concentrated near the poles. At solar maximum, in July 2014, the structure is much more complex, with closed and open field lines poking out all over – ideal conditions for solar explosions. CREDIT NASA/SVS

The surface of the sun writhes and dances. Far from the still, whitish-yellow disk it appears to be from the ground, the sun sports twisting, towering loops and swirling cyclones that reach into the solar upper atmosphere, the million-degree corona – but these cannot be seen in visible light. Then, in the 1950s, we got our first glimpse of this balletic solar material, which emits light only in wavelengths invisible to our eyes.

Once this dynamic system was spotted, the next step was to understand what caused it. For this, scientists have turned to a combination of real time observations and computer simulations to best analyze how material courses through the corona. We know that the answers lie in the fact that the sun is a giant magnetic star, made of material that moves in concert with the laws of electromagnetism.

“We’re not sure exactly where in the sun the magnetic field is created,” said Dean Pesnell, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It could be close to the solar surface or deep inside the sun – or over a wide range of depths.”

Getting a handle on what drives that magnetic system is crucial for understanding the nature of space throughout the solar system: The sun’s magnetic field is responsible for everything from the solar explosions that cause space weather on Earth – such as auroras – to the interplanetary magnetic field and radiation through which our spacecraft journeying around the solar system must travel.

So how do we even see these invisible fields? First, we observe the material on the sun. The sun is made of plasma, a gas-like state of matter in which electrons and ions have separated, creating a super-hot mix of charged particles. When charged particles move, they naturally create magnetic fields, which in turn have an additional effect on how the particles move. The plasma in the sun, therefore, sets up a complicated system of cause and effect in which plasma flows inside the sun – churned up by the enormous heat produced by nuclear fusion at the center of the sun – create the sun’s magnetic fields. This system is known as the solar dynamo.

We can observe the shape of the magnetic fields above the sun’s surface because they guide the motion of that plasma – the loops and towers of material in the corona glow brightly in EUV images. Additionally, the footpoints on the sun’s surface, or photosphere, of these magnetic loops can be more precisely measured using an instrument called a magnetograph, which measures the strength and direction of magnetic fields.

Next, scientists turn to models. They combine their observations – measurements of the magnetic field strength and direction on the solar surface – with an understanding of how solar material moves and magnetism to fill in the gaps. Simulations such as the Potential Field Source Surface, or PFSS, model – shown in the accompanying video – can help illustrate exactly how magnetic fields undulate around the sun. Models like PFSS can give us a good idea of what the solar magnetic field looks like in the sun’s corona and even on the sun’s far side.

A complete understanding of the sun’s magnetic field – including knowing exactly how it’s generated and its structure deep inside the sun – is not yet mapped out, but scientists do know quite a bit. For one thing, the solar magnetic system is known to drive the approximately-11-year activity cycle on the sun. With every eruption, the sun’s magnetic field smooths out slightly until it reaches its simplest state. At that point the sun experiences what’s known as solar minimum, when solar explosions are least frequent. From that point, the sun’s magnetic field grows more complicated over time until it peaks at solar maximum, some 11 years after the previous solar maximum.

“At solar maximum, the magnetic field has a very complicated shape with lots of small structures throughout – these are the active regions we see,” said Pesnell. “At solar minimum, the field is weaker and concentrated at the poles. It’s a very smooth structure that doesn’t form sunspots.”

Take a look at the side-by-side comparison to see how the magnetic fields change, grew and subsided from January 2011 to July 2014. You can see that the magnetic field is much more concentrated near the poles in 2011, three years after solar minimum. By 2014, the magnetic field has become more tangled and disorderly, making conditions ripe for solar events like flares and coronal mass ejections.

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193 thoughts on “New insights into the solar magnetic dynamo

  1. Models like PFSS can give us a good idea of what the solar magnetic field looks like in the sun’s corona
    The PFSS model [mainly developed by my colleague Ken Schatten in around 1970] works VERY well, as the computed shape of the corona matches quite well what we observe. It is a bit of a mystery why it works so well, but at least we can say that the model gives a good description of the magnetic field.

    • Oh, snap! You folks are talking about the Sun.
      For a moment there, I thought you all knew my sweetheart.

    • Really pretty; and interesting too.

      Good thing that it doesn’t have any effect on our climate.

      G>g

      • “The Sun changes too little and too slowly to have any detectable changes of the longer-term environment of the Earth.”

        The Sun’s TSI changes little and appears to have little effect. It’s magnetosphere, on the other hand, changes radically, sometimes enveloping Earth. The effect of this action on Earth’s climate is not well understood and could well be non-trivial. Until funding gets redirected from CO2 alarmism, though, this understanding could be a long time coming. Sad.

      • it envelops the Earth all the time [and is called the ‘solar wind’]. The solar wind is extremely tenuous and has no documented effect on the climate. ‘Could well have’ is just wishful thinking.

      • george e.- Are you sure those strands aren’t man-made co2 shooting out? I mean, it’s burning, right? And if you try to claim it’s not man-caused, sounds like you’re one o’ them den*ers. A serious question, though-you recently responded to someone writing about various radiation from sun to earth, you said only thermal electricity gets through and light was only in our head (I’m paraphrasing). I’m curious what you meant. Full disclosure, I’m not a scientist, just curious about light, heat, magnetics, gravity; similar properties v. differences. Any direction much appreciated.

      • “it envelops the Earth all the time.”

        It’s characteristics (density, temp, and speed), however, modulate noticeably.

        “The solar wind is extremely tenuous and has no documented effect on the climate. ‘Could well have’ is just wishful thinking.”

        Unlike alarmists, I leave room for doubt. However, given that empirical data shows CO2 does not have a substantial effect on climate, it is a good candidate … and worth serious investigation (which it will not get as long as CO2 alarmists control the purse strings).

      • But what is often referred to as the “detectable changes” of our climate, i.e. 0.8 degrees warming in 140 years, are only spuriously detectable on graphs, hard to see in reality.

        Actual climate change events, i.e. Younger Dryas, were very likely not caused by solar variability, but these minuscule changes only observable on graphs of high resolution data may very well be.

        Why wouldn’t decades of continuous high/low solar activity influence these small scale changes, even if solar variability is only 0.1%?

        Furthermore, what is the actual TSI? Does it range from 1360-1363 or 1364-1367 W/m^2? It seems the answer for this estimate varies more than the sun itself, and if this isn’t agreed upon, how can solar influence upon climate be more than just an opinion at this point?

      • “””””…..
        Paul Courtney

        February 1, 2016 at 1:41 pm

        george e.- Are you sure those strands aren’t man-made co2 shooting out? I mean, it’s burning, right? …..””””

        Nah ! Sun’s too damn hot to burn.

        G

  2. ““We’re not sure exactly where in the sun the magnetic field is created,” said Dean Pesnell, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It could be close to the solar surface or deep inside the sun – or over a wide range of depths.”

    A very welcome admission.

    • A very welcome admission
      I’m not sure that ‘admission’ is the right word to use. It is quite normal in science to express uncertainty when needed, and certainty when obtained. For the solar dynamo, arguments can be for different depths, and there may be more than one dynamo. So, instead of an ‘admission’, the statement actually admits a range of plausible explanations. Further research will help sorting out the roles of different possibilities. especially when our ability to observe flows in the interior of the Sun improves.

      • “It is quite normal in science to express uncertainty when needed,”

        If only climate science followed this good example

      • I love that word ” flows ” in there Dr. Leif. Not the same as random noisy agitation.

        But yes those pictures are very pretty; and thought provoking.

        G

      • instead of an ‘admission’, the statement actually admits …

        which is totally different from an admission which does admit. LOL.

        Scientists talk like diplomats. When they don’t know whether it the surface, the core or am mixture of several different depths the say “we are not exactly sure”. aka “we have no idea where it happens.”

        You know what, I’m “not exactly sure” either, maybe I can apply for a job as a solar physicist.

      • we have no idea where it happens
        On the contrary, we have lots of ideas about where it happens. Too many, in fact. It could happen in several places. Only observations can pin that down more precisely. You are trying to give the impression that we know nothing at all. I’ll submit that it is rather you that don’t know anything about this.

  3. “We’re not sure exactly where in the sun the magnetic field is created,”

    And all speculation about it is verboten.

      • well hippies used to say
        ” Hey man, I just sense my surroundings with what I have to sense with. Maybe there are things going on that I just do not have the sense organs to respond.”

      • @ zemlik — they were right, too; there are things going on that we do not have sense organs to detect. If you ever receive a large enough dose of radiation that you can feel it, what you’re feeling is massive shock to your system and you will be dead in 24-48 hours.

  4. Obviously on WUWT we are also interested in how solar activity affects the weather and/or climate on Earth. This NASA/Goddard article, while interesting and as per Leif good, concentrates on the ~11yr cycle. We sort of know, as per Willis, that this has little noticeable effect on climate (maybe a small change in cloud cover giving a change in diurnal temperature range in some places but little effect on “average” temperature).

    But we also know from other studies and stats that the sun affects Earth’s temperature on longer timescales, for example the ~88yr and ~200yr cycles of Nile floods (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=1319), the patterns in the Greenland ice core records which may be from solar influence (http://climate4you.com/images/GISP2%20TemperatureSince10700%20BP%20with%20CO2%20from%20EPICA%20DomeC.gif), correlations between cosmic rays (and hence solar activity) and climate (https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/kirkby_cern_slideshow09.pdf), etc. – and there might even be external influences on the sun too (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11207-014-0510-1). So what we really need to know about is how the solar activities on longer time scales work, and how they affect Earth. On that, we appear to be no closer at all??

    • I agree Mike. Until we advance more in our knowledge of long term variations in solar activity we are left only with the striking correlation between millennial solar grand minima and severe cooling during the past 11,000 years. I once thought that it was a coincidence that LIA expanded through four solar grand minima, but it turns out that other severe cooling periods took place coincident with other grand solar minima, like the one 2800 years ago that got the name of Homeric solar minimum.

      Modern science can tell us little about grand solar minima because it has never studied one. As far as I know we don’t even have an hypothesis on why they tend to cluster on the lows of the 2400 years Hallstatt cycle.

      • ‘As far as I know we don’t even have an hypothesis on why they tend to cluster on the lows of the 2400
        years Hallstatt cycle.’

        We now know a little more about the 2402 year Charvatova cycle and the 2208 year Hallstatt cycle.
        Come visit us at Weathercycles.wordpress.com

      • ‘As far as I know we don’t even have an hypothesis on why they tend to cluster on the lows
        of the 2400 years Hallstatt cycle.’

        We now know a little more about the 2402 year Charvatova cycle and the 2208 year
        Hallstatt cycle. Come visit us at Weathercycles wordpress.com

  5. Folks, we are so used to seeing bad science trumpeted in breathless press releases that we may be having a problem seeing some good, useful science when it shows up. Also, Mike Jonas has indicated what we really need to know – but science doesn’t work to order, and doesn’t work fast – this piece of work is a small step in the long progression of research needed to answer those questions.

    So, let’s try to recognize the good science when it pops up, and be patient. Also helps to encourage the researchers to keep working on the problem.

  6. “Folks, we are so used to seeing bad science trumpeted in breathless press releases that we may be having a problem seeing some good, useful science when it shows up. ”

    Well, that’s the problem with activist scientists. I blame Gavin Schmidt for the current distrust of anything coming from NASA.

    • To me, the problem is more than people generalize when it is not appropriate. There is no reason to distrust anything from NASA. A distrust that is probably agenda-driven.

      • “A distrust that is probably agenda-driven.”
        Exactly. Or, you could say there is a distrust of the NASA agenda, as communicated by Schmidt. Which is why it is a bad idea for a lead scientist to promote a political agenda.

      • “There is no reason to distrust anything from NASA”

        Seriously?
        No, as in none?
        One word: “Adjustments”.

      • People distrust some of the people at NOAA who are known to be agenda driven. With the agenda being to promote catastrophic scenarios from human emissions of CO2. In other words, they claim CO2 will cause catastrophic warming and catastrophic climate change.

        The distrust seems further warranted due to such things as the Karl et al., study which in 2015 essentially doubled the amount of warming reported of the Oceans in the last few years based on homogenizing ARGO data to mainly water temperature measurements data from ship engine room inlet ports.

      • This only means that you can distrust those individuals, and that distrust does not automatically carry over to ALL people in NASA. If you believe it does, then you are committing an agenda-driven fallacy. Do you agree that you do?

      • Leif,
        Suggesting that [government] organizations do not have institutionalized agendas is naïve in the extreme. GISS [part of NASA] first under Hansen and now under Schmidt, has had a demonstrable CAGW/CACC agenda since the late1980s and so have the UK Met Office/Hadley Center and NOAA – those are well documented, verifiable, observations which require no ongoing data “adjustments”.

        Do you still trust anything “climate science” related published in e.g. either Science or Nature or the Royal Society, Hadley, PIK/Potsdam or the IPCC for that matter, after the explicit alarmist / profoundly unscientific agenda driven positions taken by those organizations?

        I hope for your own credibility’s sake that you are not suggesting that e.g. Schmidt, Karl, Jones, Slingo, McNutt or Schellnhuber are not actively propagating the institutional agendas of their respective organizations. Or that you are intimating that my pointing out these things means I somehow have an “agenda” – other than recognizing and flagging blatantly politicized, unscientific, institutionalized agendas when I see them?

      • lsvalgard- “there is no reason to distrust anything from NASA.” Not even it’s primary mission, Muslim outreach? And what tetris says. You don’t think progs are running NASA? I do, and if I work to end that, my “agenda” is warranted. Being agenda driven is not necessarily a fault.

      • Adjustments are necessary when they are needed. Apparently the Data Quality Act is irrelevant to some.

        Never fear, the algorithm is working as designed.

      • Leif, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

        Call it “agenda-driven”, if you like, but I will continue to beware a source that has lied to me. There are adjustments, and adjustments, and I consider Steven Goddard to have shown well which kind NASA has been making with past temperatures.

  7. http://ibex.swri.edu/students/How_does_the_Sun.shtml

    “When charged particles move around really fast they create magnetic fields. The Sun is made of positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons in a state of matter called plasma. Since the Sun is made of charged particles, magnetic fields are created by the movement of the particles.”

    When NASA says this, I believe them. Do you?

    • This view is too simplistic. What happens is that when a plasma moves across an existing magnetic field an electric current is induced which has its own magnetic field which then can amplify the field already there. So the effect goes like this: magnetic field + moving (and neutral) plasma = more magnetic field. Take a neutral copper wire, form it into a coil, move it over a magnet and your generate a current that also has a magnetic field. Move the coil really fast and you can get a very large magnetic field.

      • The previous solar cycle provides the magnetic field for the creation of the following one. This is the basis for our successful prediction of solar cycles. And my explanation is not any different from NASA’s. Perhaps something was lost in translation between NASA, the journalist writing the piece, and your reading of it.

      • I’m not going to call that circular reasoning but it appears to be. The last solar cycle’s magnetic field was also caused by the motion of charged particles.

        Perhaps something was lost in translation between NASA, the journalist writing the piece, and your reading of it. Not on my end. The article by NASA was written by NASA and is just a few paragraphs long. Not much room there for misinterpretation.

      • The solar plasma is electrically neutral [like a copper wire], but is conductor [like a copper wire]. Faraday’s law states that moving a conductor in a magnetic field creates a current with its own magnetic field. The magnetic field from which a new sunspot cycle is created is left over from the previous cycle, all the way back to when the Sun was formed. The magnetic field back then came from the gas cloud that contracted to create the Sun all the way back to when the Galaxy was formed. So where did the very first magnetic field come from. One possibility was long ago suggested by Ludwig Biermann http://www.leif.org/research/The-Origin-of-Magnetic-Fields.pdf
        who showed how to create a magnetic field from nothing.

        Your comments suggest that you managed to get misled regardless.

      • The solar plasma is electrically neutral, i.e. has the same number of positive charges [mainly protons] and of negative charges [electrons]. Moving the plasma’s positive charges constitutes an electrical current going one way. Moving the negative charges constitutes an electrical current going in the opposite direction, thus there is no net current and thus no magnetic field resulting from just moving the plasma. You need to move the plasma across a magnetic field to induce the current [more correctly: a voltage, which can then drive the current]. The constant harping on ‘charged particles’ is very misleading and NASA should be faulted for keep doing it.

      • Bob, let me try one more time.
        The NASA piece said:
        “The sun is made of plasma, a gas-like state of matter in which electrons and ions have separated, creating a super-hot mix of charged particles. [so we have equal number of both, hence the plasma is electrically neutral] When charged particles move, they naturally create magnetic fields, which in turn have an additional effect on how the particles move. [positive and negative particles create current in opposite directions, hence no net current and no magnetism] The plasma in the sun, therefore, sets up a complicated system of cause and effect in which plasma flows inside the sun – churned up by the enormous heat produced by nuclear fusion at the center of the sun – create the sun’s magnetic fields. ” [and here they ‘hide’ the crucial point behind the word ‘complicated’, omitting to say that the movement across an existing magnetic field is the real cause].
        If you don’t get by now, I give up on you.

      • Once again, what kind of matter creates a magnetic field that does not involve charged particles in motion, as magnetism is a property of matter, of a substance? What substance is that Dr. Svalgaard?

        Furthermore, new star creation happens regularly, so what physical substance created the supposed seed magnetism of recent new stars if it wasn’t charged particles? I doubt you know the answer.

        Smarting off to me isn’t winning you any points, and it’s not helping you make your point.

      • Lief;

        I believe Bob was trying to get at was “What caused the very first magnetic fields, ever?” Sometime during the collapse of the proto-Sun to it’s current configuration something stirred up the pot; what was it?

      • “What caused the very first magnetic fields, ever?” Sometime during the collapse of the proto-Sun to it’s current configuration something stirred up the pot
        No need for additional stirring. The gas from which the Sun condensed already had a magnetic field, as I have pointed out several times.

      • Dr. S,
        I would like to quote again from Dr. Alfven’s Nobel lecture, the closing which is lyrical:

        “It was the wonders of the night sky, observed by Indians, Sumerians or Egyptians, that started science several thousand years ago. It was the question why the wanderers – the planets – moved as they did that triggered off the scientific avalanche several
        hundred years ago. The same objects are now again in the center of science – only the questions we ask are different. We now ask how to go there, and we also ask how these bodies once were formed. And if the night sky on which we observe them is at a high latitude, outside this lecture hall – perhaps over a small island in the archipelago of Stockholm – we may also see in the sky an aurora, which is a cosmic plasma, reminding us of the time when our world was born out of plasma.
        Because in the beginning was the plasma.”

      • Yes, that is a nice quote. Hannes was a good friend of mine and he had a way with words. We had discussed his ideas often, usually over lunch that would then drag out to late in the afternoon.

      • Because in the beginning was the plasma
        Indeed, the first 380,000 years after the Big Bang the universe was a plasma, but then the protons and electrons recombined to form neutral hydrogen [with some helium http://www.leif.org/research/Helium.pdf ] and there was no more plasma for the next several hundred million years, until the first stars formed and re-ionized the interstellar gas.

    • The magnetic field back then came from the gas cloud that contracted to create the Sun all the way back to when the Galaxy was formed. So where did the very first magnetic field come from. One possibility was long ago suggested by Ludwig Biermann…

      You called it a ‘possibility’ – you did not say it was proven. It’s only a theory. What kind of ‘gas’ produces a magnetic field other than plasma?

      What physical entity are you claiming creates your preexisting magnetic field? Magnetism is a property of matter, so what particular matter are you talking about that preexisted charged particles?

      • I called it a possibility as there are other ways to create magnetic fields from nothing [as I alluded to in my link, read it!]. The bottom line is that it does not seem difficult to create the seed field. You fixation with ‘charged particles’ is misplaced. Space plasmas are electrically neutral [containing the same number of positive and negative charges] just like a copper wire. Wiggling a copper wire in a magnetic field creates an electrical current with its own magnetic field thus movement of the conductor can maintain the field even make it stronger. The solar plasma is no different. And no, magnetism is not a property of matter. If you really want to know, magnetism is a quantum-mechanical effect due to a phase shift of the wave function that a charged particle picks up as it moves through space, while electricity is the phase shift of the wave function that a charged particle picks up as it moves through time, but it is really not necessary to go that deep, as good old Faraday’s explanation is good enough for the problem at hand.

      • “If you really want to know, magnetism is a quantum-mechanical effect due to a phase shift of the wave function that a charged particle picks up as it moves through space, while electricity is the phase shift of the wave function that a charged particle picks up as it moves through time, but it is really not necessary to go that deep, as good old Faraday’s explanation is good enough for the problem at hand.”

        Thank you Lief, but that still involves a charged particle! We’ve been going around and around with this for three years, it has been fun, but you have to admit, there hasn’t been an explanation given that doesn’t involve charged particles!

        New stars are forming right now. We know plasma is all over the place in those regions of space.
        What seeds a magnetic field for new star creation today if it isn’t charged particles? Your last explanation here “magnetism is a quantum-mechanical effect due to a phase shift of the wave function that a charged particle” presumes a charged particle is causing magnetism!

        So why do you keep arguing with me about that??? LOL!!!!!

      • What seeds a magnetic field for new star creation today if it isn’t charged particles?
        The galactic space is full of magnetic fields [e.g. produced by the Sun, and carried out into interstellar space by the solar wind]. We can directly measure those fields [using something called Faraday Rotation]. This has nothing to do with ‘charged particles’ creating magnetic fields.

        We’ve been going around and around with this for three years
        And you still haven’t learnt anything. Keep this up and you will soon the same exalted do-not-want-to-learn level as Vuk.

        Space plasmas are NEUTRAL [we have known this since 1919] just like a piece of copper wire and you and I. You can wave around all the charged particles in your hand all you will without creating magnetic fields because your hand is a very poor conductor. Move a copper wire in a magnetic field created the current that powered the light on my old bicycle [anno 1950]. Remove the magnet and you get no light even if the wire contains something like 10^25 charged particles.

        Let this be a teaching moment for you.

      • @Bob Weber (And probably Dr Svalgaard as well)

        This is a question from a casual knowledge base on high energy plasmas and stellar dynamics:

        Wouldn’t the pre-ignition rotation and gravitational compression of hydrogen gas have created metallic hydrogen which could have then created a magnetic field that “sparked” (for lack of a better work) and perpetuated the magnetic field when the pre-star or just-born-star created its first plasma?

      • The galactic space is full of magnetic fields [e.g. produced by the Sun, and carried out into interstellar space by the solar wind]. …. This has nothing to do with ‘charged particles’ creating magnetic fields.

        But the solar wind is made up of electrons, protons and alpha particles which are …. ?

      • But the solar wind is made up of electrons, protons and alpha particles which are …. ?
        Water is made up of Hydrogen [and Oxygen] which is made up of protons and electrons too….
        The point is that the sun, the solar wind, and water are all electrically neutral.

      • You are talking in circles Dr. Svalgaard.

        Now you’re threatening me with name calling? Your argumentation is weak- pathetically ineffectual.

        So you think dangling the prospect of more abuse is going to win you any argument with me?

        Space plasmas are NEUTRAL

        You are conflating the issue here – I didn’t claim the space plasma wasn’t neutral. The subject matter here is what causes magnetism., not whether the space plasma is neutral or not! Quit changing the subject!

        No, the magnetic field in newborn stars comes from the magnetic field already present in the gas cloud from which the star was formed. We know from measurements of Faraday Rotation that the interstellar gas has a magnetic field…

        Once again, what constitutes the “gas cloud” other than plasma, ie , charged particles, that creates magnetism? Your every answer so far invoked charged particles. What substance is separate and different in the interstellar gas that creates the magnetic fields in the interstellar ‘gas’ other than the motions of electrons and ions? You don’t have an answer – man up and admit it.

        And no, magnetism is not a property of matter.

        This statement of yours demonstrates utter ignorance. As we do agree that moving charges create a magnetic field, perhaps you can explain how the particles are not ‘matter’? Would you argue that the magnetic field of an iron bar magnet is not connected to the matter that constitutes the iron bar? Would you argue that if you relocated the bar magnet, the magnetic field would persist in the place where the magnet was located after it’s removal? The iron bar magnet field is a property of the iron, of the matter, of the iron’s electrons, and nothing else. You have to be insane to think magnetism isn’t a property of matter! Where is the evidence that it isn’t Dr. Svalgaard?

        There are no magnetic fields without the motion of electrons and ions. You have not proven me wrong in three years. This time I trust the readers to know who is right here.

        If you cannot answer these questions without invoking charged particles, then what you are doing here, and have been doing here all these years is peddling circular pseudoscience.

        You’re not getting away with this anymore. Let this be a learning moment for you.

      • “””””….. And no, magnetism is not a property of matter. …..”””” From Dr. S somewhere hereabouts.

        I think I’ll steal that line and add it to my compendium of subtleties.

        As far as I know, ALL forms of magnetism which are often found in the vicinity of some materials (matter) have been explained completely by electric currents flowing in closed circuits. Those theories all relate to only the electric charge that is involved in those currents. Nowhere in such theories of magnetism does one ever invoke the mass of the charged particle; which IS a property of matter.

        So the electric current involved in a flow of electrons goes in one direction (the wrong direction because of Benjamin Franklin’s error) but the matter (mass) goes in the other direction.

        And in the case of Dr. Svaalgard’s field of expertise (Old Sol) all that iron (is there iron in the sun ?) doesn’t make any magnetic fields because it is far too hot.

        Yes I did a double take when I first read that statement from Leif (actually somebody else’s citation of it).

        But then it dawned on me that I agree with him.

        Yes it is in some ways a nit pick; but it’s a nit pick that makes a crucial distinction between what is fact and what is fantasy.

        G

      • Here’s the opening words from chapter 6, section 6.1 in ” Introduction to Electrodynamics.” By David J. Grifiths.
        ” 6.1 Magnetization; 6.1.1 Diamagnets, Paramagnets, Ferromagnets.
        If you ask the average person what “magnetism” is, you will probably be told about horseshoe magnets, compass needles, and the North Pole- none of which has any obvious connection with moving charges or current-carrying wires. Yet all magnetic fields are due to electric charges in motion, and in fact if you could examine a piece of magnetic material on an atomic scale, you would find tiny currents: electrons orbiting around nuclei, and electrons spinning. ”

        I won’t continue to reproduce here, because ANYONE who really wants to know what really goes on with magnetism can read textbooks in their library as easy as I can dig through my library.

        Dr. S. seems to have this stuff at his fingertips. 60 years ago, I did too, but lack of need to use since then, has greyed a lot of it out. Fortunately, in my day, we didn’t have the enemies of learning like exist today: Google, Wikipedia, and the like, so we had to learn it ourselves.

        Nowadays, you can remain as ignorant (or stupid) as you want to be; so long as you can text google.com, or wiki on one of your finger toys, and be presented coldly with what you have to take for granted is absolute truth. You have to, because you simply don’t have what it takes to be able to judge it for yourself from basic knowledge.

        I lost 100% of all of my high school and college textbooks, and school notes and lectures, that were in a box that vanished off a boat (if it ever went on that boat) one year after leaving academia, and if I hadn’t learned any of that stuff, I would never have been able to get a job anywhere. The majority of what I had in Textbooks, I have never been able to replace, to try and recover any of what was lost.
        I did get my first paying job in industry, about a week after landing on the docks of Manhattan; and about 48 hours after reaching Portland Oregon via Greyhound bus. Been gainfully employed ever since.

        I find it a lot easier to listen to what somebody who is actively working in some field of interest, has to say, than to try to get it from books; but the books are always there just in case there isn’t a Dr. S or a Roy Spencer, willing to pass on their expertise.

        As side note; I misspoke somewhere here and said magnetic fields didn’t contain any energy. That was a scrambulation of something else that I misremembered.

        What Griffith says in discussing the Lorenz Force law of magnetostatics is:

        ” Magnetic forces do no work. ” (on an electric charge)

        They can alter the direction of a charged particle but cannot slow it down or speed it up.

        As a clue to how “magnets” come to be; imagine a flock of electrons each circling a nucleus in the same direction in a plane, and each one creating a tiny magnetic field.

        You can see that in the space between two of such micro currents, the currents are flowing in opposite directions, so they cancel out, and in the end, you have nothing but a single current loop going around the perimeter of the entire assemblage, and that giant current loop is what makes the remaining magnetic field.

        The quantum mechanical configurations of electrons in some materials like iron and cobalt, explains how ferromagnetism arises. I’m not a quantum mechanic, so I don’t understand (fingertipwise) how that works, but some explanations I’ve read did make sense to me at the time.

        All of the known magnetic properties in and around materials or not, have been explained at some level in terms of continuous circulating currents.

        Apparently according to Leif, exactly where in the sun such goings on take place, is still a subject of research. I don’t have any idea, so I listen to what he says.

        G

      • We do know that the dynamo operates in and around the solar ‘convective zone’ that occupies the outer 30% of the Sun [in radial extent]. The dynamo comes from the flows of the plasma, so by mapping out how they go we are in effect mapping out where the dynamo operates. Up to a few years ago we had to assume on theoretical grounds what the flows look like. Today, our SDO satellite allows us to actually measure the flows [using seismology – same way as people on Earth prospect for oil]. The measurements get better the longer the time-base is, so are steadily improving. One thing we have learned is that the flows are more complicated than thought, and that we are still a few years away from a complete picture, so, instead of being totally ignorant on the matter, we are steadily improving our knowledge of the process.

    • Well I’m not so sure about that.

      Last time I looked at a book on electrodynamics (last Saturday night). It takes an electric current to create a magnetic field.

      An isolated moving charge (electron or proton) does NOT constitute an electric current.

      Current is the rate of charge FLOW past a given point or through a given section.

      If the charge accelerates, then Maxwell insists that it radiates EM waves, but the current basically has to have a closed circuit to make magnetic fields.

      I think such plasma flows do occur in the sun; but I don’t know if that is their source of magnetic fields; but mostly the charged particles running about in a plasma are cancelling each other’s effects out as far as trying to make a magnetic field.

      If I’m wrong on that (often are) somebody will correct me. (and I’ll go back and re-read that book; but I’m pretty sure a single moving charge does not constitute an electric current). I think it relates to some sort of ” continuity ” condition.

      G

      • The single moving charge example is a theoretical situation, as the sun has charged particles everywhere, unlikely in isolation. Solar plasma of electrons & ions, mostly protons, are moving in the coronal loops, closed and open, in the photosphere, and also they move under the surface in the dynamo(s). I think the only time local discontinuities happen is right after big solar flares & CMEs occur, a fast process, that once over, plasma returns to a continuous state. But that’s at a macro level that we can see with our eyes, not down at the particle level, where continuity may very well exist, far below the present threshold of detection.

      • What follows is an excerpt from Hannes Alfven’s Nobel Prize lecture in 1970.
        I claim no expertise, only trying to achieve some understanding here.
        I like this part:
        …”it is only the plasma itself which does not « understand », how beautiful the theories are and absolutely
        refuses to obey them.”

        “…plasma physics has started along two parallel lines. The first one was the
        hundred years old investigations in what was called electrical discharges in
        gases. This approach was to a high degree experimental and phenomenologi-
        cal, and only very slowly reached some degree of theoretical sophistication.
        Most theoretical physicists locked down on this field, which was complicated
        and awkward. The plasma exhibited striations and double-layers, the electron
        distribution was non-Maxwellian, there were all sorts of oscillations and in-
        stabilities. In short, it was a field which was not at all suited for mathemati-
        cally elegant theories.
        The other approach came from the highly developed kinetic theory of
        ordinary gases. It was thought that with a limited amount of work this field
        could be extended to include also ionized gases. The theories were mathemati-
        cally elegant and when drawing the consequences of them it was found that
        it should be possible to produce a very hot plasma and confine it magnetically.
        This was the starting point of thermonuclear research.
        However, these theories had initially very little contact with experimental
        plasma physics, and all the awkward and complicated phenomena which had
        been treated in the study of discharges in gases were simply neglected. The
        result of this was what has been called the thermonuclear crisis some 10 years
        ago. It taught us that plasma physics is a very difficult field, which can only
        be developed by a close cooperation between theory and experiments.”…
        …”The cosmical plasma physics of today is far less advanced than the thermo-
        nuclear research physics. It is to some extent the playground of theoreticians
        who have never seen a plasma in a laboratory. Many of them still believe in
        formulae which we know from laboratory experiments to be wrong. The
        astrophysical correspondence to the thermonuclear crisis has not yet come.
        I think it is evident now that in certain respects the first approach to the
        physics of cosmical plasmas has been a failure. It turns out that in several
        important cases this approach has not given even a first approximation to
        truth but led into dead-end streets from which we now have to turn back.
        The reason for this is that several of the basic concepts on which the theories
        are founded, are not applicable to the condition prevailing in cosmos. They
        are « generally accepted » by most theoreticians, they are developed with the
        most sophisticated mathematical methods and it is only the plasma itself
        which does not « understand », how beautiful the theories are and absolutely
        refuses to obey them. It is now obvious that we have to start a second approach
        from widely different starting points.”

        http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1970/alfven-lecture.pdf

      • I don’t make this stuff up. Sometimes I do forget it; specially short term. Sometimes I can’t even come up with Albert Einstein’s name.

        So my reference textbook is ” Introduction to Electrodynamics ” By David J. Grifiths. That’s a Reed College chap (The cognoscenti knows that is in Portland Oregon, and is a sort of “Textronix ” school. This is not the Textbook I used for Electrodynamics 60 years ago. It’s a 1980s text. Also one of the most readable text books I have ever encountered.
        So Grifiths says in his section 5.2 on the Biot-Savart Law: …… Steady currents produce magnetic fields that are constant in time …..

        He goes on to say … By steady currents I mean a flow of charge that has been going on for ever- never increasing, never decreasing, and never changing course …

        Later he says ” Notice that a moving point charge cannot possibly constitute a steady current, if it’s here one instant and gone the next …..”

        You can’t have a steady magnetic field at a point unless you have a steady current flow in that region, and a moving point charge, just isn’t sticking around to do that. (that’s me saying that).

        Griffith adds: ” That may seem like a minor thing to you, but its a major headache for me ……when a steady current flows in a wire its magnitude I must be the same all along the line; otherwise charge would be piling up somewhere.

        He cites the continuity equation del . J = 0

        The Biot-Savart Law gives the magnetic field of a steady current.

        B(P) = munought /4pi integral (I X r)/r^2 dl Well that r on top is the unit vector in the r (radial direction relative to the current vector. direction.

        Would be nice to have math terminology on a keyboard. Anyhow that’s a vector equation and X means the cross product of the current vector I and the unit radial vector r and of course the cross product gives a vector perpendicular to those two . Nuff of that; if the point charge takes of exit stage right, there isn’t a constant current at the original point so there isn’t a steady magnetic field there.

        G

      • Richard:
        It is now obvious that we have to start a second approach from widely different starting points.
        In the almost half-century since Alfven’s speech we have learned that his concerns were an over-reaction to the rejection by most scientists of many of his ideas about the role of plasma and currents in space and that a new approach was not really needed. Alfven’s original ideas [from the 1940s] are today still considered to be fundamentally correct.

      • A gas mass spectrometer accelerates a beam of ionized nuclei through a magnetic field, and the EM force bends the path based on mass.
        In the application I used, a constant source of sample gas was not required, so no reason you couldn’t expect it to work single atom at a time.

        From my understanding of magnetized iron is that the spin of electrons becomes aligned, and non-magnetized iron the spin is randomly aligned.
        but as far as I know rare earth magnets do not fade over time, and am fascinated that you can lift stuff with them and the field stays the same.

      • G E Smith says:

        Last time I looked at a book on electrodynamics (last Saturday night). It takes an electric current to create a magnetic field.

        Obviously the sun isn’t one, but what about a permanent magnet?

      • Also, I believe it is true that a steady magnetic field, such as from a steady current flowing in a wire or from a bar magnet, contains NO energy.
        On the other hand EM fields which result from changing currents do contain energy.

        And yes if I’m wrong on that, do correct me.

        G

      • lsvalgaard
        February 1, 2016 at 9:43 pm
        Alfven’s original ideas [from the 1940s] are today still considered to be fundamentally correct.
        ___________
        In reading about Alfevn waves I came across this article from 1942. Is it still considered fundamentally correct?
        http://www.nature.com/physics/looking-back/alfven/index.html
        “Alfv�n waves
        Any movement within a conducting fluid that is in the presence of a magnetic field will generate electrical currents. These currents will then interact with the field to produce mechanical forces which act back on the fluid. In 1942, Hannes Alfv�n noted that in this scenario “a kind of combined electromagnetic-hydrodynamic wave is produced which� so far as I know, has as yet attracted no attention”. Alfv�n calculated the properties of such waves, suggesting that they could be important in solar physics. Today, Alfv�n waves and other related magnetohydrodynamic waves take centre stage in the study of laboratory, space and astrophysical plasmas.
        Nature 150, 405–406 (1942)”

        I confess that the math is beyond me so I must rely on experts to interpret it.

      • Yes, it is very correct. The basic premise is that the conductivity of the plasma be infinitely high and/or the length scale of the plasma is large. This is very nearly the case for cosmic plasmas, in particular for the Sun. Many instabilities exist that some times lead to a breakdown of that premise [e.g. when the length scale due to movements of the plasma becomes small] and that is when electric currents blow up the plasma, e.g. in solar flares.

  8. Are there any good online sources of information for an absolute novice about solar physics? I’m trying to increase my understanding of the solar cycle and it’s interaction with earth’s climate because something other than a 0.018% increase in CO2, like a gigantic nuclear fusion reaction for example, would seem to exert at least some influence on a complex dynamic. I don’t totally discount the ‘butterfly effect’ but surely there’s a hydrogen bomb effect too and all the recent talk of an impending Maunder Minimum piqued my curiosity.

  9. Leif – a question.”The PFSS model gives a good description of the magnetic field.”

    Is this just an ability to calculate what we see (as Newton’s law of gravity does), or does it explain it mechanistically?

    Most other disciplines in life would love the degree of certainty which comes from Newtonian mechanics – the ability to predict eclipses with precision far into the future outstrips most other fields of work.

    I assume the Sun is too stochastic regarding its magnetism to get the same certitude?

    • The PFSS is just like Newton’s law of gravity. It is a description that even assumes there are no electric currents flowing in the volume. This assumption turns out to be rather well justified as any electric currents would rather instantly short out because of the very high electrical conductivity of the plasma. There is a final twist on the PFSS, namely that at a certain height in the solar atmosphere the field is no longer potential but is forced [arbitrarily] to become radial and from that height [at the so-called ‘source source’] the plasma flows radially away from the Sun [as the solar wind].

    • Tom, I’ve seen Leif’s blog. I’m amazed that the advice he gives to a ‘complete beginner’ (see thread above) is to check out google. One would have thought that such a big solar expert could at least point this person in the right direction. Maybe a book?

  10. The statement “We’re not sure exactly where in the sun the magnetic field is created” surprises me. Maxwell’s equations tell us that a magnetic field is created by electrical charges that move. The sun id composed of plasma (not gases) so EVERY particle in the sun is electrically charged and moving VERY fast.
    The positive charges (ions) are relatively heavy and slow compared to the negative charges (electrons), so their magnetic fields can never completely cancel out. The fields we observe are the instantaneous (in the relativistic sense) SUM of all the individual fields made by an almost incalculable number of charged particles. This sum hints at the location and direction of plasma currents.

    • I don’t see how the SUM (as you put it) helps point to location and direction of plasma currents. In essence, it must surely be like numerous ‘vectors’ (of mag fields) combining to create the ‘sum’ magnetic field observed? so how can one determine the numerous sections and sources of said field given the characteristics you describe?

    • Maxwell’s work is often undeservedly neglected or even ignored regretfully even by solar scientist of today.
      Albert Einstein obviously knew better since this is what he thought and said of Maxwell:
      “The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell’s equations of the electromagnetic field.”
      “Since Maxwell’s time, physical reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of reality is the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton”

      Max Planck : “He achieved greatness unequalled”

      Richard P Feynman: “From a long view of the history of mankind – seen from, say, ten thousand years from now – there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics”

      • Maxwell’s work is often undeservedly neglected or even ignored regretfully even by solar scientist of today
        Not at all. Maxwell’s equations form the bedrock of solar physics, combined with Alfven’s insight about how they should be applied in a plasma. But, obviously, you don’t know that.

      • Notice that after all the dust has settled on the quantum revolution, the surviving concept at the very top of the Physics heap; the ONLY fundamental physical constants with EXACT values, are munought, epsilonnought, and (c) which are the centerpiece of Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism. And Maxwell’s work is purely classical Physics.

        G

    • Coming from a complete novices perspective – If the two charges were not attracted to each other, the huge mass difference in the spinning ball of gas (if without charges) would see a huge difference in the relative amount of electrons to positive particles depending on altitude. The electrical attraction between the two minimises this in the plasma but doesn’t completely negate it.

      Orbiting ions produce an accelerating electric field that creates a magnetic field that produce an electric field …
      If the positive and negative particles were paired, they would cancel each other out. Since there is an imbalance, the Sun isn’t uniform there is a large magnetic field that keeps changing, and having a different effect on the movement of the charged particles of different mass, making it even more inhomogeneous. Then there are the nuclear reactions to power the Sun.

      Good luck modelling it.

    • Magnetic fields are generated by electric currents that flow in a closed circuit not a moving isolated charge.

      g

      • “Magnetic fields are generated by electric currents that flow in a closed circuit not a moving isolated charge.”
        Like the vacuum free space isolated charges swept side to side in a magnetic yoke deflected CRT beam (old style TV tube). Put a magnet next to the screen and it’s easy to see the interaction. What I’ve always found amazing is that an electron added to a proton makes a neutron BUT the proton is not considered to be the combination, as apparently the electron disappears and simply changes an up quark into a down quark (Proton = 2 up quarks &1 down quark; Neutron = 2 down quarks & 1 up quark). However when the neutron decays it emits an electron and an antineutrino, so the reverse happens (quarks are soooo versatile). As to the quantum “rules”, too bad they don’t explain just “why” moving electrons should generate a mag field to start with.

      • Well a copper wire carrying a current (steady) is quite electrically neutral as Dr. S. has stated here in several places. The magnetic field around that copper wire is quite stationary and isn’t going anywhere. But its presence can be proved with a simple compass needle.

        So what if you bring an isolated electric charge up near this current carrying wire, what force will that charge experience ??

        The answer is that the force on that charge will be zero, and the charge will not be affected in any way by the current carrying wire or the magnetic field.

        This experiment proves (when you do it) that there simply is NO electric field anywhere near the current carrying copper wire, and there certainly is NO MOVING electric field.

        Now if your isolated electric charge is free to move, then when it moves it will be controlled by the magnetic field of the wire, but if the charge stays stationary relative to the wire it will not be aware of the magnetic field.

        I have no idea where and how solar magnetic fields are created. As Leif says, the solar plasma is electrically neutral; he even said like a copper wire.

        Now in the copper wire, the positive charges (protons) are essentially fixed to the atoms of the wire, and aren’t going anywhere. But some of the electrons in the wire are free to move. That’s why the copper is a metal.

        So the electrons can move (some of them); but as many come in at one end of the wire, as go out the other, and they have to go in a closed loop, or else charge will pile up somewhere.

        Now it is not unreasonable to see the solar plasma as being like a metal with massive positive ions, that move somewhat slowly, if at all, but a flux of electrons moving in a closed loop at quite high speeds.

        The magnetic field patterns that are seen in the diagrams above suggest that there are current paths that form circulating currents, which does not mean that the bulk of the mass is moving anywhere although IO suppose it is, but the electrons can flow freely just like in a copper wire.

        And as Dr. S also pointed out, any iron in the sun is so hot that there is no trace of ferromagnetism, since it is way above the Curie point. The same goes for the iron core of the earth. It isn’t ferromagnetic either, and earth’s magnetic field results from circulating currents also.

        g

      • ” As Leif says, the solar plasma is electrically neutral; he even said like a copper wire.”
        The thermoelectric effect is the current due to two different pieces of wire joined in a circuit with the two junctions at different temperatures. There is not net flow if they are at the same temperature except for a very short period until a small charge builds up to stop the flow of electrons. It stems from the surfaces being different so that the flow from one metal to the other is different in different directions. There is a net flow until the charge builds up, or if the two junctions are at a different temperature.

        I was just suggesting that the large difference in mass of charged particles spinning so fast could produce such inhomogeneity in the plasma – virtual wires with a current in them.

      • ” virtual wires with a current in them.”
        Iron cores in transformers develop eddy currents.
        ” Eddy currents (also called Foucaultcurrents) are loops of electric current induced within conductors by a changing magnetic field in the conductor, due to Faraday’s law of induction. Eddy currents flow in closed loops within conductors, in planes perpendicular to the magnetic field.”

        Eddy current – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Wikipedia › wiki › Eddy_current

        The iron is made into thin sheets, and the sheets are stacked to reduce the amount of loss due to I×R heating.

      • “””””…… Eddy currents flow in closed loops within conductors, in planes perpendicular to the magnetic field.” …..”””””

        Eddy currents flow in conductors only if the magnetic field is varying, which means in the case of a current carrying wire that the current creating the magnetic field must be changing. And since the induced current depends on the rate of change of the magnetic field and hence the current, there must be a phase lag between the changing current in the wire, and the induced eddy current, which will be generated within the same wire.

        At high AC frequencies, the phase shift of the eddy current will result in the eddy current flowing opposite the original current, thus reducing the current in the wire, and apparently raising the electrical resistance of the wire. This is exactly the cause of the “Skin effect” which occurs in high frequency conductors, and leads to making conductors with lots of thin wires that have more surface area for their total crossectional area.

        g

    • I believe Maxwell’s equations tell us that the magnetic field relates to J , the current density; not to the charge. A steady, non varying magnetic field requires a steady non varying current; not some electron or proton whizzing by.

      g

  11. I have a simple question for Leif – are essentially all electromagnetic radiations from the sun being measured/monitored? By that I mean, are there any parts of the EM spectrum not being covered by current monitoring? If not, why not? The indication from solar physicists that there is no significant relationship of climate to solar activity makes me assume that everything must be being measured/monitored and has been shown to be ‘constant’ +/- a little bit. Is this correct? (could there be something we don’t know about in terms of radiation?)

    • TSI measures as the word Total implies ALL wavelengths. This is accomplished by simply letting raw sunlight enter the instrument. TSI does vary a little bit (one in a thousand) which makes the temperature of the Earth vary a tiny bit too (one in 5700 = 288K/5700 = 0.05K). I don’t think there is something we don’t know about radiation, and in any case it is flaky science to assume that something that is not observed is caused by something we don’t know.

  12. Off-topic: WUWT is so packed with ads that my CPU utilization jumps to 85% when I open a page. The computer becomes unresponsive. I have to close my Chrome every five minutes.

    • I discovered that the ads packed in by [WordPress] were not causing my similar issue, but rather that accursed Adobe Flash Player BS trying to respond to them, often trying to open several little videos at once. Got rid of Flash Player and problems went away- you might try the same. Or, put the lime in the coconut…

      • Thanks for that. My computer can stay on WUWT for about five mute tops before crashing. Then I have to re-launch my browser. I doesn ‘t happen on any other web site.

      • I agree that flash player is the problem. Had a hard time removing it, but when I did, crashing stopped.

      • I need Flash Player for another application which I run frequently. Are there any other ways to disable the annoying WUWT ads

      • Set Flash (at least in Firefox) to “ask to activate” in the Tools/Add ons menu. Then just click the window it if you want to view it.

      • The Sun’s core is Hydrogen and Helium. And BTW, iron loses it magnetism at temperature higher than the so-called Curie Temperature [about 700 degrees C] and the Sun’s core is ten thousand times hotter.

      • Leif the iron core is the neutron that keeps the positive hydrogen and negative helium attracted. I see the sun like a tri molecule with iron as the neutron (Nucleus), hydrogen as proton positive , and hydrogen providing negative charge. The heat you talk about is trapped in by cold electric potential (electrons) we call space. If opposites attract and likeness repel and the electron cloud keeps molecules together, The negative charged electrons try to maintain separation while the much larger protons and neutrons form mass why can’t you see this working on a bigger scale ?

  13. What?? Is this the same nasa that told the world that solar cycle 24 was going to be the most active solar cycles ever? Is this the same institution now saying they are not sure where exactly in the sun the magnetic field is created??

    Hmm… (scratches chin) where is the suns polar field produced? And why are sunspots and magnetic fields produced when this polar field (n) (s) begins interacting? Oh wait nasa doesn’t know nevermind.

    • Sparks February 1, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      “What?? Is this the same nasa that told the world that solar cycle 24 was going to be the most active solar cycles ever? ”

      You know very well that was a group think decision and that Leif is the one who got it right but was overruled.

      • To Leif’s credit… Measuring the speed of rotation of the suns polar field is an excellent way of modeling the intensity of a succeeding solar cycle… I keep reading comments from leif suggesting that the sun has no influence on earths climate variability, how long would anyone hold this belief if the polar field remained at the geographic poles for an extended period of a decade or several decades?

      • It is not the ‘rotation’ that is important, but the magnetic field at the Sun’s poles that is the seed for the next cycle and thus determines its size. That field is constantly fed from decaying sunspots moving from lower latitudes to the poles to perpetuate the cycle: as long as there are sunspots [or their magnetic fields even if the spots are too weak to be seen, e.g. during the Maunder Minimum] there will be polar fields, and as long as the polar fields form there will be sunspots.

      • Leif,
        In your opinion did the momentum of the suns polar field follow or precede sunspots while sunspots were moving away from the equator twords the poles?

  14. I can’t see the time scale.

    I detect a 1 second period in the video. I see a sunspot erupt and a wave of “dislocations” and propagate like a beating heart. Roughly every second of the video. What is that?

  15. …Cosmic rays that produce extra clouds are the main culprit in changing Earths atmospheric diametrics and the albedo of the Earth which in turn controlled by Sunspots ! IMHO…

  16. lsvalgaard

    February 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm
    … There is a final twist on the PFSS, namely that at a certain height in the solar atmosphere the field is no longer potential but is forced [arbitrarily] to become radial and from that height [at the so-called ‘source source’] the plasma flows radially away from the Sun [as the solar wind].
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————

    Thanks Dr. S., final twist lol.

    I think you commented on Zharkova’s model (below) saying that it didn’t “hindcast”?
    But what else did you see when you looked over the article? A second dynamo is what everyone else seems to be looking for. Out of sync hmmm.

    Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo

    Published on Thursday, 09 July 2015 08:17

    https://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/2680-irregular-heartbeat-of-the-sun-driven-by-double-dynamo

    …The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone….

    …But every cycle is a little different and none of the models of causes to date have fully explained fluctuations. Many solar physicists have put the cause of the solar cycle down to a dynamo caused by convecting fluid deep within the Sun. Now, Zharkova and her colleagues have found that adding a second dynamo, close to the surface, completes the picture with surprising accuracy.

    “We found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs, originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different, and they are offset in time. Over the cycle, the waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97%,” said Zharkova.

    Zharkova and her colleagues derived their model using a technique called ‘principal component analysis’ of the magnetic field observations from the Wilcox Solar Observatory in California. They examined three solar cycles-worth of magnetic field activity, covering the period from 1976-2008. In addition, they compared their predictions to average sunspot numbers, another strong marker of solar activity. All the predictions and observations were closely matched.

    Looking ahead to the next solar cycles, the model predicts that the pair of waves become increasingly offset during Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022. During Cycle 26, which covers the decade from 2030-2040, the two waves will become exactly out of synch and this will cause a significant reduction in solar activity.

    “In cycle 26, the two waves exactly mirror each other – peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun. Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other. …

    Some of the rest of you guys… hey … knock off the NASA bashing crapola. They have so much data and info for all us to use, if only we had the time to consider it all..

  17. Svensmark notices the sun effecting our climate. How solar scientists don’t see is beyond me.

    Must be blinded by it…

  18. “We’re not sure exactly where in the sun the magnetic field is created,” said Dean Pesnell, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    I love the way scientists never admit they have very little idea of what causes something, they’re just “not exactly sure”.

    Well I guess that makes me a solar physicist too, because I’m “not exactly sure” how the sun works either !

    • “It could be close to the solar surface or deep inside the sun – or over a wide range of depths.”

      Well that sounds like a pretty comprehensive declaration of ignorance rather than “not exactly sure. The only thing this statement seems to rule out ( although not explicitly, so they could backtrack ) is that the cause is not outside the sun.

      • Again, you overreach. If you knew just a little bit more of what is going on, you would know that the debate is about details of the well-known dynamo process which itself is not in doubt.

    • they have very little idea of what causes something, they’re just “not exactly sure”.
      ‘Not exactly sure’ means that they have very good ideas of what causes something, but are still debating the details, in this case, precisely at what depth the dynamo process [which is not in doubt] works. It does not mean they don’t anything at all.

      • “….precisely at what depth the dynamo process [which is not in doubt] works. ”

        As I don’t have a scientific degree I took your advice made in another comment and used
        my “friend” Google,

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamo_theory
        In physics, the dynamo theory PROPOSES a mechanism by which a celestial body such as Earth or a star generates a magnetic field

        http://www.physics.iisc.ernet.in/~arnab/lectures.pdf
        The first sentence of the abstract;
        The cyclically varying magnetic field of the Sun is BELIEVED to be produced by the hydromagnetic dynamo process.
        In the introduction ;
        We BELIEVE that the magnetic fields of not only the Sun, but of all astronomical
        bodies, are produced by a process called the hydromagnetic dynamo process

        https://www2.mps.mpg.de/solar…/dynamo2013.pdf
        talks about the dynamo HYPOTHESIS

        This got me a bit confused.
        Now , is Google not my friend , or is the Hydrodynamic Dynamo Process not a certainty
        like you stated ,(:”which is not in doubt” ) but (merely) a theory/hypothesis like other theories about the Sun , although maybe believed by most of the ‘consensus’, ‘settled ‘scientists.?

  19. lsvalgaard

    You know 1 million times more about solar physics than I ever will, so I’ll never say I know better than you when you state that ‘variations in TSI are too small for the sun to affect long-term climate change’.

    I will, however, ask a question as an innocent, perhaps deluded amateur:

    How are you so sure that all radiative frequencies from the Sun are critical to any cascades which trigger significant ‘climate change’?

    Let us suppose, without evidence, but simply hypothesising, that there are a few ‘golden frequencies’ which vary significantly (by which I mean in a way which can have measurable changes in effects on earth’s climate) through solar cycles and between solar cycles.

    Would it then matter whatsoever what the TSI was?

    I am arguing from the analogy of enzyme kinetics where you could have a ‘carbon soup’ of constant ‘carbon content’ which varied almost imperceptibly. However, let us assume that a key substrate for a key enzyme had a concentration which varied 3 fold in the range where substrate concentration was much less than saturating to the enzyme. In that situation, you can have measurably different outcomes in a linked enzyme system despite the ‘total carbon soup’ concentration being almost identical.

    I am speaking from total ignorance and would be quite happy for you to point me and others to the literature which shows that you physicists thought about this long ago and have proven scientifically that this scenario does not pertain in the solar system and on planet earth.

    The key ‘variables’ might be:
    1. ‘Golden’ frequencies of radiation.
    2. Magnetic pertubations.
    3. Others.

    Quite what the amplification systems might be would be for others to discuss.

    As would be the ‘energy sink’ systems and how they store and release energy on different timescales which might manifest themselves in terms of climatic changes.

    rtj1211

  20. Sunspot numbers for January 2016 are out (down a bit on December) at around 41 in the old numbers

    There is a mountain of science papers based on the old numbers, when there is a stream of new papers using ‘Svalgaard numbers’ than the above graph will change over

    • I noticed up further that the Dr said the sun or solar cycles do not effect our climate? The LIA occurred when the sun had a sabbatical, how can a Dr of the sun believe it was not the sun that caused it.

    • C’mon Vuk, stop misleading new readers. You know that the new numbers are not “Svalgaard numbers” but the results of a long process of scientific study and workshops that discussed and analyzed the way the count was being done. Are you afraid the new numbers will make your wiggle matching not so matching?

      • Hi Tom
        Thanks for your comment, hope weather is good in Florida.
        a) Various things in field of science are named after scientists who either discovered or made greatest contribution to a particular matter. After reading the relevant document, one could realise that other named persons are just token contributors. When I say ‘Svalgaard’s number’ everyone knows what is meant.
        b) Your second point indicates to me that you are not familiar at all with the ‘new data’.,the recalculation increased 19th and reduced 20th centuriy SSN amplitude .
        Now take a look at my graph, move up 19th and move down 20th century the red amplitude curve would present even better fit.
        Contrary to your comment, I could jump on the ‘bandwagon’ and claim additional benefit of ‘Svalgaard et al’ recalculations, but as I said above, when the new data is in the contemporaneous solar papers the graph will change and consequently benefit visually from the change, but its substance stays the same.

      • Using what you again incorrectly call the Svalgaard numbers:
        1820 – fail
        1870 – fail
        1885 – fail
        1920 – fail
        1960-1980 FAIL

      • “We’re not sure exactly where in the sun the magnetic field is created”
        said Dean Pesnell
        Svalgaard’s SS numbers improved a bit the original ‘fuzzy’ correlation. Sun does unexpected departures from a general trend, as far as we can tell from subjective estimate of the SSN count, but in long term it appears the trend is to build-up and run down its activity with periodicity of 100+ years. I have no advanced knowledge why this or another it might do, I just entered 10x and 24x well known orbit number into the equation.
        Experts tell us that hypothesis could be validated by its predictability power. Equation was devised in 2003 and published on 8/01/2004, subsequently SC24 peaked in 2014, so one could say so far so good, but it may take anther 10 cycles, and even then no certainty, but you and I wouldn’t be here even if WUWT is, to check it out, hence don’t take it too seriously.
        My advice to you Tom in Florida, if your life expectancy is beyond 2025, you could expect down there, masses of new friendly northern neighbours, just joking.
        Enjoy the sunshine.

  21. The sun is orbiting the center of the galaxy at ~486000 mph. The sun is also orbiting
    the solar system’s center of mass with an average periodicity of ~11.862242 years.
    As the sun races along it’s galactic orbit, it ‘writhes’ side-to-side to a number of frequencies.
    For more on the side-to-side motion of the sun, visit us at Weathercycles.wordpress.com

    • TLMango The 11.862242 years is the same time it takes Jupiter to rotate the sun. Could there be a connection to sun spots and Jupiter (the suns biggest moon) Would Jupiter be big enough to block galactic cosmic microwaves when it pass through the suns line of direction ?

      • Jmorpuss,
        You have some great ideas! A bow shock would explain why we haven,t been
        struck by an asteroid traveling 486000 mph.
        Not many are aware of the binary attribute that exists between Jupiter and
        the Sun. At Weathercycles we’ve done some work in this area.

  22. Dr. Svalgaard :

    Thanks again for both of your graphics :

    I was hopeful to catch you again here to ask one additional question about these two plots. I have looked quickly thru your files at your website, in hopes of finding a textual introduction to each of the solar parameters shown – most probably have missed it. Do you have a reference for the solar parameters shown OR could you suggest a document ? I greatly appreciate your work.

  23. lsvalgaard

    February 1, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1512.05516.pdf
    ” We show that the Zh15 model fails to reproduce the well-established features of the solar activity evolution during the last millennium. This means that the predictive part for the future is not reliable either.”
    —————————————————————————–

    Got it … Thank you Dr.S.

    Well back to thinking about pressure changes to the heliospheric bubble and solar differential rotation.
    And how this might effect sunspot formation, buoyancy and now Height of magnetic canopies above sunspots.
    Wish this current location allowed more time for brain relaxation. Adrenaline rich these days. Here comes the BA door slammer, not just once or twice but a gazillion times…eeeeeek

  24. Matter is made up of atoms, each consisting of electrically charged parts: a central nucleus, charged positively, surrounded by one or more negative electrons. The nucleus contains most of the mass, whereas the electrons are lightweight, nimble and relatively easy to separate from the rest of the atom. A glowing wire, for instance, emits electrons and can serve as an electron source for the beam used in TV tubes and computer monitors.
    A iron ball surrounded by a electrified gas would create magnetism .
    How to create magnetism with electrons and iron. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5A5ddgbQv0

    • Except that the Sun is not an iron ball and it is not surrounded by an ‘electrified gas’ [whatever that is – perhaps you mean like the gas inside a florescent light tube]

  25. lsvalgaard

    February 2, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    since the solar wind is supersonic, what happens at its out boundary has no impact on the sun….
    ——————————————————————————————————————–
    The “Final Twist,” to this discussion comes from the Hubble.
    If Parker could have seen this? What would he think? Take a good look at that twist, omg.
    LL Orionis is our assignment today

    Finally, watched the Parker lecture from AGU. Wow, blew me away once Prof. Scherrer got into it. He had some great animations depicting current sheet structure over solar cycle and torroidal cycles and so much more. electrograms gotta watch this again. so much great info

  26. From the Parker Lecture, at AGU on demand, channel Planetary Discovery, Prof. Scherrer talks about the “residual zonal flows after removing smooth constant rotation curve” graph he has depicted. bout 36min into video.

    Not where’s the beef but:

    WHERE’S THE FLUX ?!!!! (said loudly)

  27. That same graph set I referred to above is also showing rotation speed at low and high latitudes.
    And the polar regions since 2007 rotation rate is slow slow slow slow and slower…
    No Flux Or compression not allowing movement from the lower lats?

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