The violent youth of solar proxies. Courtesy of IAU.
The violent youth of solar proxies. Courtesy of IAU.

Astrobiology, Astronomy

Sun, Earth Are Unlikely Pair to Support Life

10 Aug , 2009 by

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We don’t know how lucky we are — really.

We know the interaction between Earth and Sun is a rarity in that it allowed life to form. But scientists working to understand the possibility that it could have happened elsewhere in the Universe are still far from drawing conclusions.

What is becoming clearer is that life probably shouldn’t have formed here; the Earth and Sun are unlikely hosts.
A series of presentations at this year’s meeting of the International Astronomical Union meeting, in Brazil last week, focused on the role of the Sun and Sun-like stars in the formation of life on planets like Earth.

Edward Guinan, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, and his collaegues have been studying Sun-like stars as windows into the origin of life on Earth, and as indicators of how likely life is elsewhere in the cosmos. The work has revealed that the Sun rotated more than ten times faster in its youth (over four billion years ago) than today. The faster a star rotates, the harder the magnetic dynamo at its core works, generating a stronger magnetic field, so the young Sun emitted X-rays and ultraviolet radiation up to several hundred times stronger than it does today.

A team led by Jean-Mathias Grießmeier from ASTRON in the Netherlands looked at another type of magnetic fields — that around planets. They found that the presence of planetary magnetic fields plays a major role in determining the potential for life on other planets as they can protect against the effects of both stellar particle onslaughts.

“Planetary magnetic fields are important for two reasons: they protect the planet against the incoming charged particles, thus preventing the planetary atmosphere from being blown away, and also act as a shield against high energy cosmic rays,” Grießmeier said. “The lack of an intrinsic magnetic field may be the reason why today Mars does not have an atmosphere.”

All things considered, the Sun does not seem like the perfect star for a system where life might arise, added Guinan.

“Although it is hard to argue with the Sun’s ‘success’ as it so far is the only star known to host a planet with life, our studies indicate that the ideal stars to support planets suitable for life for tens of billions of years may be a smaller slower burning ‘orange dwarf’ with a longer lifetime than the Sun — about 20-40 billion years,” he said.

Such stars, also called K stars, “are stable stars with a habitable zone that remains in the same place for tens of billions of years,” he added. “They are 10 times more numerous than the Sun, and may provide the best potential habitat for life in the long run.”

Not are planets like Earth the best places to harbor life, he said. Planets double or triple the size of Earth would do a better job of hanging onto an atmosphere and maintaining a magnetic field: “Furthermore, a larger planet cools more slowly and maintains its magnetic protection.”

Manfred Cuntz, an associate professor of physics at the University of Texas at Arlington, and his collaborators have examined both the damaging and the favorable effects of ultraviolet radiation from stars on DNA molecules. This allows them to study the effect on other potential carbon-based extraterrestrial life forms in the habitable zones around other stars. Cuntz says: “The most significant damage associated with ultraviolet light occurs from UV-C, which is produced in enormous quantities in the photosphere of hotter F-type stars and further out, in the chromospheres, of cooler orange K-type and red M-type stars. Our Sun is an intermediate, yellow G-type star. The ultraviolet and cosmic ray environment around a star may very well have ‘chosen’ what type of life could arise around it.”

Rocco Mancinelli, an astrobiologist with the Search for Extraterrestrial Life (SETI) Institute in California, observes that as life arose on Earth at least 3.5 billion years ago, it must have withstood a barrage of intense solar ultraviolet radiation for a billion years before the oxygen released by these life forms formed the protective ozone layer. Mancinelli studies DNA to delve into some of the ultraviolet protection strategies that evolved in early life forms and still persist in a recognizable form today. As any life in other planetary systems must also contend with radiation from their host stars, these methods for repairing and protecting organisms from ultraviolet damage serve as models for life beyond Earth. Mancinelli says “We also see ultraviolet radiation as a kind of selection mechanism. All three domains of life that exist today have common ultraviolet protection strategies such as a DNA repair mechanism and sheltering in water or in rocks. Those that did not were likely wiped out early on.”

The scientists agree that we do yet know how ubiquitous or how fragile life is, but as Guinan concludes: “The Earth’s period of habitability is nearly over — on a cosmological timescale. In a half to one billion years the Sun will start to be too luminous and warm for water to exist in liquid form on Earth, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect in less than 2 billion years.”

Why is the Sun yellow?

Source: International Astronomical Union (IAU). A link to the meeting is here.

By
Anne Minard is a freelance science journalist with an academic background in biology and a fascination with outer space. Her first book, Pluto and Beyond, was published in 2007.


64 Responses

  1. tacitus says:

    No doubt the “rare-earthers” (i.e. creationists) will be touting this research as confirmation of how “special” Earth is as a harbor for life. But as Torbjorn says, a proper reading of the findings is actually more encouraging, not less, given the abundance of orange dwarfs in the galaxy.

    Of course there are orders of magnitude more red dwarf stars that orange dwarfs, and they are stable for tens of billions of years. They have their own challenges regarding being places where life can form (many of them are flare stars) but given their numbers, we certainly can’t rule them out as yet either.

  2. tomkaten says:

    I thought the probability of finding a life-harboring planet orbiting a brown dwarf is smaller, since the habitable zone is much closer to this kind of star and being close to your host star is never a good thing.

    Planets that are that close might become tidally locked and permanently expose one side to the host star, with devastating effects on the planet’s climate. Not to mention the increased star wind and radiation inherent to such small distances.

    Sure, it’s nice to be able to include smaller and ultra stable stars into equation, while boosting the odds of life appearing in the process, but I don’t think that the expected life span of a star tells the whole story here.

  3. Jon Hanford says:

    Missed the presentation on the ‘electric comet’ theory. Those modern astronomers are surely delusional on this proven fact :)

  4. Torbjorn Larsson OM says:

    tomkaten, I suspect that you mean red dwarfs (M type, I believe) and I suspect your concerns is why they discuss orange dwarfs (K type).

    Also, I suspect that the article describes planets regardless of habitable zone, since we don’t know that life is rare. Rather the IAU talks seems to suggest the reverse, i.e. if life could get hold in a tempestuous environment it could easily get hold in more calm ones.

    “”The Earth’s period of habitability is nearly over — on a cosmological timescale.”

    OTOH, on its own scale of habitability it will continue for at least 10 % of its lifetime, or possibly up to 40 %. I tend to think the later is favored, as the atmosphere will likely continue to rarefy as suggested by some researchers.

    Speaking of atmosphere lifetimes, those K dwarfs won’t support life for as much longer anyway. IIRC there are models of super-Earths that have atmosphere lifetimes up to 10-15 Gy at the most. If Earth can eke out 5-7 Gy, it has done good.

  5. Anaconda says:

    @ Jon Hanford:

    “Missed the presentation on the ‘electric comet’ theory. Those modern astronomers are surely delusional on this proven fact :-)”

    Well…since your asked:

    http://thunderbolts.info/pdf/ElectricComet.pdf

    Now, the underlying basis for the “electric” comet theory is that there is an ‘electric field’ that accompanies the solar wind, and how would we know that?

    Easy, the solar wind’s charged particles accelerate past the Earth and what else would accelerate the charged particles besides an ‘electric field’ which is undisputedly known to accelerate charged particles.

    The ball is in your court, Jon :-)

  6. Jon Hanford says:

    So now you’re telling us that ‘all’ comets are electromagnetic phenomena but that they cannot be a low-density object in our solar system or a soot-covered body of icy molecules? Meaningful citations, please :)

  7. IVAN3MAN says:

    @ Anaconda,

    By “meaningful citations”, Jon Hanford means from independent, peer-reviewed sources, not from that Thunder[bollocks].info outfit, which is to science what the Ku Klux Klan is to civil rights.

  8. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    @ Anaconda
    Enough of you acting like a jackass. No one believes you stupid personal theories, and frankly no one is really interested in your fringe personal idiotic ideas.
    My advice to you is to just go away. Nobody is interested anymore.
    As for quoting from the fraudulent and deceptive Thunderdolts.Info site – everyone already they are liars and deluded fools.
    Now go away you totally pathetic fool!

  9. Nexus says:

    Yes, the electric universe theory is a lot of twaddle and crackpot nonsense but I don’t think there’s any call for those kinds of personal attacks.

  10. Jon Hanford says:

    “Missed the presentation on the ‘electric comet’ theory.” Actually, I still missed a peer-reviewed, published paper giving a complete EU description of comets?

    “Well…since your asked:”…..No. I didn’t ask (reread my post!) and if I did, it sure wouldn’t be from Anaconda.

    In Anaconda’s post he mentions “what else would accelerate the charged particles besides an ‘electric field’ which is undisputedly known to accelerate charged particles.” Wouldn’t a nuclear bomb or a supernova accelerate charged particles sans an EM field?

  11. Dark Gnat says:

    I think this does show how precious this planet and the life it holds really is.

    This is our only home. There is nohing else out there that is within reach.
    Being “green” is all the rage these days, though I think it has more to do with appearances than actual conservationism.

    If we really want to make a difference, we need to stop all deforestation, especially in the tropics.

    EU controversy: Until EU = pseudoscience. So what if the big bang was discovered by a Christian? Guess what, the guy that discovered genetics was a Christian too, (and a priest) should we wipe that away?

    Leave your political anti-religion/anti-science ideas at the door.

  12. ND says:

    IVAN3MAN,

    The KKK comparison was a bit harsh, no?

  13. SteveZodiac says:

    It does seem that we exist only because of several coincident factors, the Earth’s core makeup and its generation of a magnetic field, the moon’s stabilisation of the earth’s axis, tectonic plates, cometary impact water, the list keeps getting longer, If there is a creator of the cosmos then we must be its accident child. Perhaps that’s why nobody “out there” has come to visit us..

  14. DrFlimmer says:

    Gee…….

    Btw: The earth is special. I don’t think that there is a planet anywhere in space that exactly is like the earth. Most likely there is life somewhere else – but will it look like life on earth? Will that planet look like the earth?

    And I second SteveZodiac, yes, many factors came together….

  15. IVAN3MAN says:

    @ ND,

    I was never one to mince my words; I tell it like it is! 😉

  16. Dark Gnat says:

    If God does exist and is the Creator, there is no reason why he would limit life to one world. ET life should be compatible with Christian religion,as Angels would technically be aliens, anyway.

    A planet with a different chemical makeup, which orbits a different star type might yield life with vastly different bio-chemestry. Aliens on that planet may be searching for life that’s similar to them, because that’s the only model they have. We do the same thing.

    How would a blind man and a deaf man who speak different languages communicate if they were miles from each other, especially without compatible technology?

  17. ND says:

    IVAN3MAN, yes you do! :)

    “Interviewer: Well, can you… blow up the world?
    Tick: Egad. I hope not. That’s where I keep all my stuff. “

  18. Anaconda says:

    The personal attacks reflect more on the character of people making the attacks than on the person who is at the receiving end of the attacks.

    Personal attacks certainly don’t suggest an open-mind regarding the scientfic evidence.

    “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” –Saul Alinsky, commited American Socialist.

    Jon Hanford wrote: “…but that they [comets] cannot be a low-density object in our solar system or a soot-covered body of icy molecules? Meaningful citations, please :-)”

    It’s possible, but that conclusion is based on assumptions that sublimation of ice into gasses causes the ‘coma’ and ‘tail’ of comets, but there is an alternative explanation that at the present time fits the observations & measurements better.

    Meaningful citations?

    I’ve linked to a presentation that discusses the observations & measurements, yet, apparently, Hanford and the others have no “meaningful” responses, rather, instead, all we get is a bunch of name calling.

    If you can’t dispute the message, “attack the messenger”, is the tactic of people who have already lost the argument on the merits.

    Jon Hanford wrote: “In Anaconda’s post he mentions ‘what else would accelerate the charged particles besides an ‘electric field’ which is undisputedly known to accelerate charged particles.’ Wouldn’t a nuclear bomb or a supernova accelerate charged particles sans an EM field?”

    But we don’t have a nuclear bomb or a supernova acting on the solar wind do we?

    Jon, your response suggests you don’t have a meaningful answer, i.e., actually addressing the observations & measurements that show the the solar wind accelerates.

    Dark Gnat wrote: “So what if the big bang was discovered by a Christian?”

    Discovered??

    Lemaitre proposed a hypothesis, he didn’t discover anything — get your history right.

    Think about what was known at the time Lemaitre proposed his hypothesis (first proposed in 1927): There was almost nothing to base his hypothesis on because observation & measurement of the Universe was still crude and primitive. Science had just discovered the Milky Way was not the full extent of the Universe (Hubble ,1924). At best it was intuitive, and where does intuition come from?

    Generally, our life experiences inform our intuition and Lemaitre’s was as a Catholic priest trying to reconcile his faith with his science.

    Nothing wrong with that per se, but considering the question to be answered and the scant scientific evidence at the time and it becomes all too clear where Lemaitre’s intuition and movtivation was coming from.

    Lemaitre said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas’ theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo – creation out of nothing.

    The point I was raising was simple enough: “Creationist” is the most toxic label someone can assign to a scientific explanation as a way to dismiss it out of hand, but the theoretical starting point for “modern” astronomy is “Creationist” on its face.

    People living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  19. Manu says:

    Funny, I had always believed Lemaitre *calculated* a valid solution to Einstein’s general relativity equations. Also arrived at by Friedmann, incidentally.

  20. Nereid says:

    In case anyone missed it …

    Anaconda posted a link to the infamous Thornhill “poster” in another UT story thread.

    I responded as follows (typo fixed):
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Anaconda introduces the infamous Thornhill poster.

    I spent some time going through it, and posted my results in a thread, started by a self-admitted proponent of EU ideas, in BAUTForum, entitled “New research results from the “Stardust” mission”^.

    From one of those posts:

    Are Thornhill and Talbott being (intellectually) dishonest? Is there something fraudulent about the “The Electric Comet” document?

    There’s a prima facie case to say they are, and that there is.

    Source: http://www.bautforum.com/1189953-post73.html

    And no, the apparent intellectual fraud is much worse than not giving credit for some images Anaconda.

    So what about Anaconda’s “The evidence and reasoning is compelling“?

    Well, I invite him – and ElroyJetson and anyone else interested – to go through my BAUTForum posts and take Anaconda’s advice “You can delude yourself if you want, but I’ll follow the scientific evidence where it leads” (quoted from an earlier UT story comment; I bolded the bit about science). I am particularly interested in discussing scientific evidence; I am also interested in not being deluded by material that seems fraudulent (in an academic, or intellectual, sense).

    ^The main posts start at #64.

  21. Nereid says:

    @Jon Hanford: There’s a more fundamental question that needs to be asked, concerning Anaconda’s bald assertion …

    In Anaconda’s post he mentions “what else would accelerate the charged particles besides an ‘electric field’ which is undisputedly known to accelerate charged particles.” Wouldn’t a nuclear bomb or a supernova accelerate charged particles sans an EM field?

    First, surely, we need to know what the scientific evidence is concerning acceleration of the solar wind, don’t we?

    For disinterested readers: EU proponents such as Anaconda often make claims about the acceleration of the solar wind; when pressed to provide scientific evidence to support such claims, the most common response that I’ve seen is to cite EU webpages (which present no such evidence) or to quote from such webpages (with or without attribution); I’m sure you’ll agree such evidence is not exactly scientific.

    If you are persistent, I think you’ll find the ultimate source of these claims is Scott … and Tom Bridgman demolishes Scott’s ‘solar wind acceleration’ claims here (warning, it’s a 48 page PDF; the section you want to look at starts on p23):
    http://homepage.mac.com/cygnusx1/anomalies/ElectricSky_20080322.pdf

  22. phez says:

    What is needed for life:

    Molecules to provide energy and information transfer. (Nucleotides in DNA, RNA)
    A soluble/permeable medium to allow transfer of energy and information. (Water)
    An environment which provides energy and the capability of reproduction.

    Finding these items through any sort of compatible atomic combination is the key to finding life elsewhere in the universe.

  23. Nereid says:

    I think we can quickly address Anaconda’s claims about the relationship between science and personal belief systems by quoting a recent blog post of Tom Bridgman, “Science and Belief Systems”
    http://dealingwithcreationisminastronomy.blogspot.com/2009/08/science-and-belief-systems.html

    For the relationship between Electric Universe proponents and ideas and creationism, a more recent Bridgman blog may be of interest (note that Bridgman is careful to distinguish between Plasma Cosmology and Electric Universe; while the former may be, today, merely bad or fringe science, the latter bears striking resemblances to creationism): “The Electric Universe and Creationism”
    (link in my next comment)

  24. Anaconda says:

    Hurry up and clog the comment board…

  25. Nereid says:

    Straight question Anaconda: what would you have your critics do?

    A straight answer would be much appreciated.

  26. Anaconda says:

    Nereid wrote: “For disinterested readers: EU proponents such as Anaconda often make claims about the acceleration of the solar wind; when pressed to provide scientific evidence to support such claims, the most common response that I’ve seen is to cite EU webpages…”

    Simply Google “acceleration of the solar wind” or a variation of same and the reader will get a long list of references.

    It’s just like Nereid to not tell the whole story when she doesn’t have an answer.

    From Wikipedia’s entry on the solar wind:

    “These particles are able to escape the sun’s gravity, in part because of the high temperature of the corona, but also because of high kinetic energy that particles gain through a process that is not well-understood.”

    Futher:

    “However, the acceleration of the fast wind is still not understood and cannot be fully explained by Parker’s theory.”

    And from a source listed as “solar wind”:

    “The processes that heat the corona to over one million degrees Kelvin, several hundred times the temperature of the Sun’s visible surface, and those that accelerate the solar wind have not been established and represent major unresolved questions in space science…Similar uncertainty surrounds the question of solar wind acceleration. According to the classical model of solar wind formation, the solar wind is driven by thermal conduction in the Sun’s extremely hot corona. However, thermal conduction alone cannot adequately account for the flow speeds observed in the high-speed solar wind, so additional, non-thermal processes must play a role in solar wind acceleration. Several candidate processes have been proposed, but no consensus has been reached.”

    So, is Nereid really saying there is no scientific evidence for acceleration of the solar wind?

    If such is the case, she comes off sounding like Eugene N. Parker’s daughter because the measurement of the solar wind’s acceleration is what falsified Parker’s thermal kinetic model of the solar wind.

  27. Nereid says:

    Once again, it is important to follow the bouncing ball, and understand how the focus of Anaconda’s comments keeps changing.

    Here’s the first one (bold added):

    Now, the underlying basis for the “electric” comet theory is that there is an ‘electric field’ that accompanies the solar wind, and how would we know that?

    Easy, the solar wind’s charged particles accelerate past the Earth and what else would accelerate the charged particles besides an ‘electric field’ which is undisputedly known to accelerate charged particles.

    This is quite specific.

    Later, we get a quote from a Wikipedia (!) article (again, bold added):

    “The processes that heat the corona to over one million degrees Kelvin, several hundred times the temperature of the Sun’s visible surface, and those that accelerate the solar wind have not been established and represent major unresolved questions in space science…Similar uncertainty surrounds the question of solar wind acceleration. According to the classical model of solar wind formation, the solar wind is driven by thermal conduction in the Sun’s extremely hot corona. However, thermal conduction alone cannot adequately account for the flow speeds observed in the high-speed solar wind, so additional, non-thermal processes must play a role in solar wind acceleration. Several candidate processes have been proposed, but no consensus has been reached.”

    So, is Nereid really saying there is no scientific evidence for acceleration of the solar wind?

    No mention of acceleration past the Earth, no mention of electric fields, no citations of papers published by Thornhill, Scott, etc concerning models accounting for the observed behaviour of the solar wind by electric fields, etc, etc, etc.

    So, just in case this was not clear the first time Anaconda, references to the acceleration of the solar wind past the Earth please … and by references, please give papers published in relevant peer-reviewed journals (NOT Wikipedia articles).

    And while we’re at it, how about some references to the existence of a stable, persistent radial electric field, centered on the Sun? References which arrive at conclusions based on objective, in situ measurements.

    @other readers: the Wikipedia article correctly identifies the cause(s) of coronal heating, and the acceleration of the solar wind in and near it (esp. the fast solar wind), as open questions in space physics. However, in some respects it’s more an embarrassment of riches … there are many possible causes, but doing sound scientific tests to distinguish among them is not easy, and may have to wait until missions like CLUSTER can be sent into the corona. There are also some interesting results on electric fields, but let’s see what Anaconda can find first …

  28. DrFlimmer says:

    But, Anaconda, we can rule out an electric field on larger scales (than, say, the Debye-length). And why can I make such a claim?

    Let’s think about it. An electric field (an electrostatic, to be more precise) accelerates electric charges, no doubt about that. I think, it is all right to take a look at a capacitor, an electrostatic field extending from the sun would work quite similar.
    If the capacitor is loaded an electrostatic field is created between the plates. Inserting an electron will lead to an acceleration towards the positive plate and inserting a proton will lead to an acceleration to the negative plate. So what we see is that opposite charges are accelerated into opposite directions. I think, you’ll agree with me so far. Otherwise, tell me where I’m wrong.

    So, now, we put the capacitor into space and let one plate be the sun and the other plate is somewhere on the edge of the solar system. Since the particles of the solar wind are charged particles we should observe that electrons are flying in one direction and protons/ions in exactly the opposite one. Correct?

    The problem, now, is that this NOT observed. It is rather observed that electrons and protons/ions are flying into the same direction and are accelerated into the same direction, which is in total disagreement with our model we derived above. Well, that rules out the model.

    (Wikipedia serves well as a source, so I don’t search for others)

  29. Nereid says:

    Here’s another thing to consider, re electric fields and comets: if comets were charged, and if they moved through an electric field, wouldn’t their orbits be different from Keplerian? Of course they would! (now for the kicker …)

    And of all solar system bodies observable, as discrete objects, comets are the only ones which have orbits that systematically, and significantly, depart from Keplerian orbits! So, perhaps one could work backwards, and from the observed deviations from Keplerian, estimate the cometary charge and/or electric field strength? Would you care to try this exercise, Anaconda?

    Here’s another consideration: suppose we take the total number of electrons within a volume of solar wind equal to that of a comet; suppose we estimate this twice, once at the comet’s aphelion, and once at its perihelion. No matter what, barring external sources of charge (i.e. other than the solar wind), a comet could not acquire a charge larger than the difference between these two estimates, could it (please confirm this Anaconda)? How big is that charge? And how does it compare to, say, the charge buildup on your clothes on a cold, dry winter’s day?

  30. Anaconda says:

    “These flows begin at 30.000 km/s at the surface, and accelerate to over 1.5 million kilometers per hour as they stream toward the Earth.

    These observations were taken on September 21, 1996 with the Solar Ultraviolet Measurements of Emitted Radiation (SUMER) spectrometer on SOHO.”

    http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/1999/B/199901828.html

  31. Anaconda says:

    @DrFlimer:

    The model is glow discharge tube. And as you seem to do on a regular basis, you confuse electrostatics with electrodynamics.

  32. IVAN3MAN says:

    This is my second attempt to post the link that Nereid unsuccessfully tried to post above (and my attempt got spammed too!), which I have now converted to a TinyURL version to see if this will work:

    Solar Wind Outflow and the Chromospheric Magnetic Network

  33. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    @ Anaconda

    How really stupid do you think everyone is here?

    Just again the usual mumbo-jumbo electroclaptrap – and you know it.
    Liars and fraudsters are so easy to pick up. They squeal out loud when the think they the know something, then run away when their flaws are completely exposed. Then they have the audacity to pretend it wasn’t true and continue on with the diatribe and claptrap again, and again and again.

    Really in the end you know absolutely nothing.
    So keep it up jackass!!

  34. Jon Hanford says:

    I guess IVAN3MAN was correct: “@ Anaconda,

    By “meaningful citations”, Jon Hanford [ and many others] means from independent, peer-reviewed sources, not from that Thunder[bollocks].info outfit…”. Anaconda must not understand what ‘peer-reviewed , published papers’ actually means. His links are to blog sites, science (or pseudoscience) sites, NASA press releases, university press releases, pictures with no captions, symposium proceedings, occasional little-cited, outdated papers by Peratt & crew, space web sites etc. I think Anaconda knows what is asked for, but is unwilling or unable to produce such papers due to their lack of existence or findings that are contrary to his beliefs. When I mention that 5 space probes have made in situ measurements of a comet’s density for 4 cometary nuclei (resourced from a wiki page on comet nuclei), he chooses to ignore these in situ measurements and to decry my use of the density of Haley’s [sic] comet as proof of my ignorance of comets. He then goes on to disparage the use of info from Wiki as unsubstantiated ‘assumptions’. Later in this thread, Anaconda repeatedly uses quotes from Wikipedia to bolster his claims. This is clearly hypocritical and dishonest! (He also seems to have trouble with scientists he names e.g. ‘Erik’ Lerner, ‘Boswik’ and ‘Haley’. Go figure :) ).

    So again I ask for peer-reviewed, published papers from all scientists and researchers who analyzed the data from these 5 cometary probes that make specific claims as to the (over)density of the observed cometary nuclei and fully support an EU interpretation of comets in general. No posters, invited lectures, symposium proceedings, wiki pages, NASA press releases, LLNL press releases, press releases in general, university press releases, pretty pictures, blog sites or just stuff you make up. I have at least posted links to peer-reviewed, published papers on this subject or a link to an abstract of a paper published in Nature in 1987 concerning the findings of the Vega/Giotto missions relating to Halley’s density . To continually post at this website for the purposes of deliberately presenting falsehoods and conjecture while offering NO meaningful information to the discussion at hand (just more ‘modern astronomy’ bashing) and then disappear only to pop up again with the same misinformation should be grounds for being banned from this site, Oils (Oops, Anaconda). Does any other avid reader of this blog feel the same? I know of several on this thread alone. Anaconda, please feel free to take umbrage, stonewall, parrot or otherwise ignore repeated requests for PRPP ( I tire of typing it over and over). Just show me the entire paper (not just an abstract) for a change.

  35. Nereid says:

    Here’s DrFlimmer:

    So, now, we put the capacitor into space and let one plate be the sun and the other plate is somewhere on the edge of the solar system. Since the particles of the solar wind are charged particles we should observe that electrons are flying in one direction and protons/ions in exactly the opposite one. Correct?

    The problem, now, is that this NOT observed. It is rather observed that electrons and protons/ions are flying into the same direction and are accelerated into the same direction, which is in total disagreement with our model we derived above. Well, that rules out the model.

    And here’s Anaconda’s response:

    @DrFlimer:

    The model is glow discharge tube.

    You realise, don’t you Anaconda, that in a glow discharge tube the electrons and (positive) ions travel in opposite directions? And that, as DrFlimmer (two “m”s if you please) points out, the electrons and (positive) ions in the solar wind travel in the same direction?

    Then there’s this; Anaconda:

    Easy, the solar wind’s charged particles accelerate past the Earth and what else would accelerate the charged particles besides an ‘electric field’ which is undisputedly known to accelerate charged particles.

    And Anaconda again:

    And as you seem to do on a regular basis, you confuse electrostatics with electrodynamics.

    I’m confused Anaconda, please help me out.

    Acceleration of charged particles in an electric field, isn’t that electrostatics?

  36. IVAN3MAN says:

    ND:

    … whether the solar wind continues to accelerate as it travels past the orbit of the planets or is there just an initial acceleration near the sun? Is the acceleration over a fixed range near the sun?

    According to this graph, the solar wind accelerates up to ~600 km/s at around 10 solar radii heliocentric distance, and then levels off to just over 700 km/s after 50 solar radii heliocentric distance.

    More to follow…

  37. IVAN3MAN says:

    Explaining the acceleration of the fast solar wind:

    It has been more than four decades since the existence of the solar wind has been confirmed by the measurements of the Mariner 2 spacecraft. However, the solar wind’s acceleration at supersonic speeds of about 700-800 km/s still remains unexplained. Parker’s theory, based on thermal conduction, results into a very low speed; this led most of the scientists to look for an additional form of energy in order to explain this acceleration. A team of astronomers working at LESIA at the Paris Observatory has proposed an alternative theory based on the role of electrons that are not in thermodynamic equilibrium; these electrons would be the main driving force of the acceleration. This approach explains, for the first time, the fast solar wind without any assumption of additional energy.

    Click for more…

  38. DrFlimmer says:

    @DrFlimer:

    The model is glow discharge tube. And as you seem to do on a regular basis, you confuse electrostatics with electrodynamics.

    No, I was not confusing anything. I make that specific difference between the fields, becuase this specific difference exists and is quite important.
    More important, you are the one who is confusing something:
    I was talking about electrostatic fields that accelerate charge particles. What I meant is an electric field that does not change wrt time. Indeed, particles are accelerated by that field. So wrt to the particles we cannot talk about electrostatics, of course, and nobody did.

    This is probably nitpicking, but you force me to.

    The field is static (that is what I said), not the particles.

    And btw: As Nereid already said, your discharge tube is not the correct model for the solar wind, because it actually contains an electric field that forces the charged particles to move in opposite dircetions depending on their charge.

    And another btw: You know, particles (charged or not) can also be accelerated by light, becuase light, although without a mass of rest, do contain momentum.
    Believe it or not, in a twisted kind of way this would be an electromagnetic phenomenon again, since light is the transmitter of the electromagnetic interaction according to QED. But since you reject QED, I’m sorry, you can’t keep this for you to claim that everything is electromagnetic…..

    I think, it is not the lack of models how the solar wind is accelerated, it is more a lack of confirmation. And I think, probably many things are at work out there – but definitly not a large-scale electric field….

    “These flows begin at 30.000 km/s at the surface, and accelerate to over 1.5 million kilometers per hour as they stream toward the Earth.

    I can’t help it, but there must be something wrong with the numbers.
    The factor between m/s and km/h is 3,6 (10 m/s are 36 km/h).
    So, 1,5*10^6 km/h are 416666 m/s, or 416,666 km/s, which would be a hugh deacceleration compared to the 30000 km/s in the beginning.
    Or do I misunderstand the dot in 30.000 and it actually means 30 km/s ?
    Can someone enlighten me, please?

    (As more I think about it, I think that I, indeed, misunderstood the dot, but a confirmation would still be highly welcomed….)

  39. IVAN3MAN says:

    DrFlimmer:

    Or do I misunderstand the dot in 30.000 and it actually means 30 km/s ?
    Can someone enlighten me, please?

    This should help: Decimal separator — Examples of use.

  40. ND says:

    DrFlimmer,

    I would have read 30.000 as 30,000 but the numbers don’t add up if 30000 km/s is supposed to be slower than 1.5 million kph. Maybe they meant 30000 km/h or 30 m/s.

    Also, one thing I confess I ‘m confused about is whether the solar wind continues to accelerate as it travels past the orbit of the planets or is there just an initial acceleration near the sun? Is the acceleration over a fixed range near the sun?

  41. Nereid says:

    Fascinating, but frustrating! My comments keep disappearing!!

    An even more reduced version, without even part of the URL …

    The “30.000 km/s at the surface” is in the PR that Anaconda cites.

    The paper the OP is based on is “Solar Wind Outflow and the Chromospheric Magnetic Network”. It seems the abstract is available for free, but not the paper; in any case, the origin of the “30.000 km/s at the surface” is unclear.

    [URL goes here!]

    From the abstract alone it is impossible to tell, but it seems to me that this paper is about coronal holes, the corona, and the origin of the solar wind … it says nothing about the solar wind accelerating past the Earth.

    Among the more than 100 papers which cite this is “Solar wind acceleration in coronal holes”, published in 2002 (I’ll provide a link to the ArXiV abstract in my next comment).

  42. Nereid says:

    Trying to post the URL with spaces between the blocks of letters didn’t work; here is an attempt with spaces between EVERY character …
    h t t p : / / w w w . s c i e n c e m a g . o r g / c g i / c o n t e n t / a b s t r a c t / 2 8 3 / 5 4 0 3 / 8 1 0

  43. Nereid says:

    So, HTML (or other) code gurus: what is it about that URL which causes it to not display, when included in a comment (as in, the whole comment fails to show)?

  44. Nereid says:

    The abstract of that paper:

    Observations of outflow velocities in coronal holes (regions of open coronal magnetic field) have recently been obtained with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. Velocity maps of Ne7+ from its bright resonance line at 770 angstroms, formed at the base of the corona, show a relationship between outflow velocity and chromospheric magnetic network structure, suggesting that the solar wind is rooted at its base to this structure, emanating from localized regions along boundaries and boundary intersections of magnetic network cells. This apparent relation to the chromospheric magnetic network and the relatively large outflow velocity signatures will improve understanding of the complex structure and dynamics at the base of the corona and the source region of the solar wind.

    The abstract from the 2002 paper:

    This paper reviews the current state of our understanding of high-speed solar wind acceleration in coronal holes. Observations by SOHO, coupled with interplanetary particle measurements going back several decades, have put strong constraints on possible explanations for how the protons, electrons, and minor ions receive their extreme kinetic properties. The asymptotic plasma conditions of the wind depend on energy and momentum deposition both at the coronal base (where, e.g., the mass flux is determined) and in the extended acceleration region between 2 and 10 solar radii (where the plasma becomes collisionless and individual particle species begin to exhibit non-Maxwellian velocity distributions with different moments). The dissipation of magnetohydrodynamic fluctuations (i.e., waves, turbulence, and shocks) is believed to dominate the heating in the extended corona, and spectroscopic observations from the UVCS instrument on SOHO have helped to narrow the field of possibilities for the precise modes, generation mechanisms, and damping channels. We will survey recent theoretical and observational results that have contributed to new insights, and we will also show how next-generation instruments can be designed to identify and characterize the dominant physical processes to an unprecedented degree.

    And the URL:
    http://fr.arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0209301

  45. Jon Hanford says:

    Nereid and Dr Flimmer, many thanks to the polite, informative discussion that just transpired in your last few posts. I learned quite a bit from it (my specialty lies in mainly extragalactic studies). This is what I come to UT for, civilized, intelligent discussion on current astrophysical topics, not the mindless EU blather. Keep fighting the good fight :)

  46. Jon Hanford says:

    Again, Nereid proves my point exactly, by posting links to PRPP, for all to see, for those with a sufficient background in professional astronomy or are advanced amateurs. I see no such reciprocation from EU supporters being asked for specific observations of any flavor of EU being the correct one.

    One question, though, what evidence would be acceptable to debunk the ‘Electric Universe’ concept. I mean, your theory(s) are falsifiable, are they not ? Or is there no way to falsify this concept? (Sounds more like a religion than a science…’Wherever the facts lead…….” Yeah, right.

  47. IVAN3MAN says:

    VOILÀ!

    😎

  48. IVAN3MAN says:

    Nereid:

    So, HTML (or other) code gurus: what is it about that URL which causes it to not display, when included in a comment (as in, the whole comment fails to show)?

    I think that it has something to do with the anti-spam filter setting of this website, which gets twitchy over certain ‘bad’ keywords. If you should encounter the problem again in future, then simply convert the offending URL to a TinyURL version at TinyURL.com.

    😎

  49. DrFlimmer says:

    One question, though, what evidence would be acceptable to debunk the ‘Electric Universe’ concept.

    @ Jon Hanford

    I am not sure what you are explicitly referring to, but the solar wind obviously falsifies the EU model, since the “electric sun”-idea says (according to Annaconda) that the sun is on a 10billion volt potential, in other words there should be an electric field around us which accelerates the particles of the solar wind (I think, this is what Anaconda is talking about right here).
    The consequences are presented in one of my previous posts 😉

    Another thing that always bothered me with the electric sun idea is that an electric field will always cancel if it can. That is the reason why we need power plants on earth, to keep the electric field (the potential drop) in our cables alive. And since the particles in outer space are not bound to something, i.e. they can flow around as they want to, such a potential drop would be easily destroyed. The sun would just accumulate enough charges (of the opposite side) and would be (overall) neutral again. And such things would happen rather quickly.

    As Ivan3man used to ask: Where is the power plant that keeps the electric field (or some mysterious currents that power stars from the outside, since there is no fusion going on inside) going?

  50. ND says:

    IVAN3MAN,

    Thanks for the links, that’s what I was looking for.

  51. IVAN3MAN says:

    @ ND,

    You’re welcome, I’m glad to help.

    Now, referring to the ArXiV abstract link provided by Nereid above on the subject of coronal holes — unlike Anaconda who gets his information from colonic holes — this is what I’ve found at the ESA website…

    Solar Wind Origin in Coronal Funnels:

    A Chinese-German team of scientists have identified the magnetic structures in the solar corona where the fast solar wind originates. Using images and Doppler maps from the Solar Ultraviolet Measurements of Emitted Radiation (SUMER) spectrometer and magnetograms delivered by the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) on the space-based Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) of ESA and NASA, they observed solar wind flows coming from funnel-shaped magnetic fields which are anchored in the lanes of the magnetic network near the surface of the Sun

    Click to continue…

  52. Nereid says:

    I think it’s important to note exactly what Scott, the leading EU authority wrt the solar wind etc, has to say …

    This is an extract from his “rebuttal” of Tom Bridgman’s “The Electric Sky, Short-Circuited”:

    The fast solar wind from the ‘cooler‘ coronal holes is easily explained by the Electric Sun model but has no conventional explanation. The ‘temperature‘ is low where the electric field is strong.

    (bold added)

    Of course, regular readers will be wondering ‘what is this “Electric Sun model”?’ and ‘how does this model explain the relevant observations?’

    And regular readers will also know the answer: there is no such model … at least, no scientific model. In fact, if you read Bridgman’s blog, you’ll see that he has gone to extraordinary lengths to try to construct just such a scientific model (or models), by poring over Scott’s published material (including the infamous book) in minute detail, only to have vitriol poured on him by EU proponents for not getting it right (no surprise though to learn that none of those who heap scorn on him deign to clarify just what the model actually IS)!

    But hope springs eternal; perhaps Anaconda will provide us with the crucial details, and at last the world will have a genuinely scientific Electric Sun model to study …

    (references for everything I’ve noted available; just ask)

  53. DrFlimmer says:

    @ Nereid:

    That’s why I called it an idea….

  54. ND says:

    I think that the originators of EU (not followers like Anaconda, solrey, gmirking etc) are gambling. They try to explain everything in terms of electricity, even craters on the moon. With that methodology you’re bound to get something close to right. With all the ideas being thrown out there, I’d be surprised if one of their ideas did not come halfway close!

  55. IVAN3MAN says:

    And that’s why I called it Thunder[bollocks].info!

  56. ND says:

    DrFlimmer,

    If let’s say there was an electric field across the length of the solar system with the sun being one end of the the potential and charged particles flowing according to their charge (not something that’s observed currently in the solar wind), these particles would continue to accelerate, no?

  57. Jon Hanford says:

    @IVAN3MAN: Keep telling it as you see it, You’re responses are both frequently piquant but LOL funny. Methinks that there’s a perished polly in this thread :)

  58. IVAN3MAN says:

    @ Jon Hanford,

    Thanks! I’m glad that someone finds me amusing.

    Oh, err… that should be Your, not “You’re”. :-)

    @ ND,

    Since it’s the early morning in Germany, at the time of writing this, and DrFlimmer is probably in still bed, I’ll answer your question as a have a background in electronics, and also I am a night owl with nothing better to do…

    The simplest particle accelerator is the Cathode Ray Tube that you find in older television sets and computer monitors. In a typical colour TV electron gun assembly, a stream of electrons is generated from a hot cathode via thermionic emission, then three anodes turn the cloud of electrons into an electron beam: the first anode (at > 300 V+) attracts and accelerates the electrons towards the screen; the second anode (at 4.2 to 5 kV+) further accelerates and focuses the stream of electrons into a very fine beam; the third anode (at 25 to 50 kV+) accelerates the beam even further towards the screen shadowmask (also at 25 to 50kV+) which forms the fourth and final anode — this is necessary to prevent negative charge build-up from the electrons, which would otherwise repel the incoming electrons. Particle accelerators operate on a similar principle, but on a much more “embiggened” scale.

    So, considering the fact that a voltage multiplier pumped by a flyback transformer is required to generate the E.H.T. potential for the third and fourth anodes, and the flyback transformer itself requires a power source derived from the TV’s mains supply, can Anaconda (where the bloody hell are you?!) explain to us “modern” astronomy adherents what and/or where the bloody hell is that alleged celestial power source for the ‘electric comet’ hypothesis — not theory; a theory is something based on fact, like the theory of gravity — and also the perpetual ‘electric field’ in the solar system that allegedly “accelerate[s] the charged particles” (all in the same direction?!) “past the Earth”? That is about as realistic as Russel’s celestial teapot!

    😎

  59. IVAN3MAN says:

    Err… that should be Russell’s, not “Russel’s”! Goddamn it, it’s getting past me bloody bedtime!

  60. DrFlimmer says:

    And now it’s evening in Germany (18:41 MEST, local) 😀

    Thanks, Ivan, very kind of you to answer that question in such a detail. My answer to ND would have been much shorter, something like

    “YES”.

    In a simple electric field, charged particles accelerate as far as the field extends. But the energy the particles can gain depends on the strength of the electric field. It does not work that a potential drop (voltage) of, say, 1V accelerates particles to almost light-speed, just by placing the anode and cathode far enough away from each other.

    The energy a charged particle can gain in an electric field is

    W=q*U (Energy = charge * potential drop).

    So the energy that an electron (q=1e) can gain in a potential drop of 1V is exactly 1eV no matter how far the field extends (this is how the unit “eV” is defined).
    And why does it not depend on the extension of the field? That is, because the electric field is (simplified) the potential drop over the “length” of the drop, something like

    E = U / l (electric field = voltage / length)

    This is, indeed, very simplistic (normally one would say that the electric field is the gradient of the potential drop vec(E)=del(V) (in some places del is also called nabla…)).
    And I am not sure if every detail is really correct – so if someone finds a mistake, please correct it!

  61. IVAN3MAN says:

    Looks like Anaconda has buggered off as usual!

  62. Jon Hanford says:

    @ Dr. Flimmer, my purpose of asking about observations that would falsify EU were mainly directed at EU supporters in the hopes of eliciting a response from them. I should have worded the question more directly. Of course, most of those posting here are abundantly clear on the many falsehoods and inconsistencies concerning the ‘idea’, ‘concept’, ‘model’ or ‘construct’ of an “Electric Sun”.

    Among others, I think Nereid summed it up nicely when she wrote “… regular readers will be wondering ‘what is this “Electric Sun model”?’ and ‘how does this model explain the relevant observations?’

    And regular readers will also know the answer: there is no such model … at least, no scientific model.” So perhaps my question is entirely irrelevant if even proponents of an ‘Electric Sun’ cannot even agree on the basics of their ‘idea’, much less articulate it!

  63. ND says:

    IVAN3MAN, DrFlimmer,

    Thanks for the explanations :) I’ve forgotten how high voltages can be in a tv.

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