3. Cosmic Engines

2016-12-01. Four New Names Officially Added to the Periodic Table of Elements. By Nicholas St. Fleur, The New York Times.

2015-10-07. Physics Nobel Winners Also Solved Solar Mystery. By JoAnna Wendel, Earth & Space Science News.

2015-06-17. Traces of Earliest Stars That Enriched Cosmos Are Spied. By Dennis Overbye, New York Times.

2015-05-03. Halley's Eclipse: a coup for Newtonian prediction and the selling of science. By Rebekah Higgit, The Guardian.

2014-09-01. Research Aimed at the Heart of the Sun.  Excerpt: With the aid of a powerful instrument, researchers have detected subatomic particles produced by fusion reactions at the very core of the sun. The particles are neutrinos, and the ones detected in this study are low in energy but abundant in number, said Andrea P. Pocar, a physicist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The neutrinos are formed by a fusion reaction between two protons at the core of the sun; they travel to Earth in just eight minutes.... “Previous experiments had measured neutrinos from the sun, but those neutrinos are present in very low numbers,” Dr. Pocar said. “These make up about 90 percent of the total neutrinos from the sun.” Dr. Pocar and his colleagues, a group of more than 90 physicists from around the world, published their findings in the current issue of the journal Nature. They relied on the Borexino detector, an instrument located deep beneath Italy’s Apennine Mountains that is sensitive enough to detect the low-energy particles.... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/science/research-aimed-at-the-heart-of-the-sun.html. By Sindya N. Bhanoo, The New York Times.

19 August 2011. Stanford scientists find way to predict sunspots. By David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: Stanford physicists probing the sun's deep interior have predicted the emergence of sunspots on the surface a full two days before they appear, providing the first early warning of the violent solar storms that can endanger astronauts in space, disrupt electric power grids on Earth, and plunge cities into darkness…
Solar physicist David Hathaway at NASA's Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Ala., called the Stanford group's predictions "an important result."
"It's long been our hope to see the storms of sunspots before they show up," Hathaway said. The experiments that led to today's report in the Journal Science were conducted by Stathis Ilonidis, a graduate student in physics at Stanford, and his colleagues…

2009 Feb 11. Solar Dynamics Observatory successfully launched Feb 11. Mission Science Objectives--The scientific goals of the SDO Project are to improve our understanding of seven science questions:
1. What mechanisms drive the quasi-periodic 11-year cycle of solar activity?
2. How is active region magnetic flux synthesized, concentrated, and dispersed across the solar surface?
3. How does magnetic reconnection on small scales reorganize the large-scale field topology and current systems and how significant is it in heating the corona and accelerating the solar wind?
4. Where do the observed variations in the Sun's EUV spectral irradiance arise, and how do they relate to the magnetic activity cycles?
5. What magnetic field configurations lead to the CMEs, filament eruptions, and flares that produce energetic particles and radiation?
6. Can the structure and dynamics of the solar wind near Earth be determined from the magnetic field configuration and atmospheric structure near the solar surface?
7. When will activity occur, and is it possible to make accurate and reliable forecasts of space weather and climate?

2007 April 24. NASA Releases 3D Images of Sun. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Excerpt: GREENBELT, Md. (AP) -- NASA released the first three-dimensional images of the sun Monday, saying the photos taken from twin spacecraft may lead to better predictions of solar eruptions that can affect communications and power lines on Earth. ... 'Wow!''' scientist Simon Plunkett said as he explained the images to a room full of journalists and scientists wearing 3D glasses. The images from the STEREO spacecraft (for Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) are available on the Internet and at museums and science centers nationwide. The twin spacecraft, launched in October, are orbiting the Sun, one slightly ahead of the Earth and one behind. The separation, just like the distance between our two eyes, provides the depth perception that allows the 3D images to be obtained. That depth perception is also particularly helpful for studying a type of solar eruption called a coronal mass ejection. Along with overloading power lines and disrupting satellite communications, the eruptions can endanger astronauts on spacewalks. Scientists would like to improve predictions of the arrival time from the current day or so to a few hours, said Russell Howard, principal investigator for the Naval Research Laboratory project. See http://www.nasa.gov/stereo 

24 May 2005. Solar Fireworks Signal New Space Weather Mystery. NASA RELEASE 05-132. The most intense burst of solar radiation in five decades accompanied a large solar flare on January 20. It shook space weather theory and highlighted the need for new forecasting techniques, according to several presentations at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting this week in New Orleans. The solar flare, which occurred at 2 a.m. EST, tripped radiation monitors all over the planet and scrambled detectors on spacecraft. The shower of energetic protons came minutes after the first sign of the flare. This flare was an extreme example of the type of radiation storm that arrives too quickly to warn interplanetary astronauts. "This flare produced the largest solar radiation signal on the ground in nearly 50 years," said Dr. Richard Mewaldt of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. ... "But we were really surprised when we saw how fast the particles reached their peak intensity and arrived at Earth." Normally it takes two or more hours for a dangerous proton shower to reach maximum intensity at Earth after a solar flare. The particles from the January 20 flare peaked about 15 minutes after the first sign. ...The Transitional Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) ... has identified a possible source of the magnetic stress that causes solar flares. The sunspots that give off the very largest (X-class) flares appear to rotate in the days around the flare. "This rotation stretches and twists the magnetic field lines over the sunspots", Nightingale said. "We have seen it before virtually every X-flare that TRACE has observed since it was launched and more than half of all flares in that time." However, rotating sunspots are not the whole story. The unique flare came at the end of a string of five other very large flares from the same sunspot group, and no one knows why this one produced more sudden high energy particles than the first four. "It means we really don't understand how the sun works," Lin said. "We need to continue to operate and exploit our fleet of solar-observing spacecraft to identify how it works."


Articles from 2005–present