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(This web page is part of a seven page research paper.  It is recommended that the paper be read in the order it was written.
Please begin here or you can download the entire paper in Acrobat PDF format.)

The Sun
 

“It is a mistake to believe that a science consists in nothing but conclusively proved propositions, and it is unjust to demand that it should. It is a demand only made by those who feel a craving for authority in some form and a need to replace the religious catechism by something else, even if it be a scientific one.”
- Sigmund Freud, http://www.chemistrycoach.com/science_and_other_disciplines.htm


    I contend that there are several important things not well understood about our own sun and its life cycle. Among the unanswered questions are; “why is the corona so hot?”, “What causes CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejection)?”, “Why would clouds of gas fall back to the sun?”, “Do novas occur only when a star dies?”, and “Why has the latest ‘Solar Maximum’ cycle of sunspots not subsided as expected?”.

Here is an article concerning the unexplained paradox of the Sun’s hot corona. There are several theories attempting to explain why the corona is so much hotter than layers closer to the core but today the explanation remains a mystery.

“As you might expect, the sun’s temperature drops steadily from its core, 15 million kelvins, to the photosphere, a mere 6,000 kelvins. But then an unexpected thing happens: the temperature gradient reverses. The chromosphere’s temperature steadily rises to 10,000 kelvins, and going into the corona, the temperature jumps to one million kelvins. Parts of the corona associated with sunspots get even hotter. Considering that the energy must originate beneath the photosphere, how can this be? It is as though you got warmer the farther away you walked from a fireplace.”

“The mystery of why the solar corona should be so hot has intrigued astronomers for more than half a century, but the reason is now within our grasp, given the latest findings from spacecraft and fast imaging of the corona during eclipses. But even as one mystery begins to yield to our concerted efforts, others appear. The sun and other stars, with their complex layering, magnetic fields and effervescent dynamism, still manage to defy our understanding. In an age of such exotica as black holes and dark matter, even something that seems mundane can retain its allure.”
- Bhola N. Dwivedi and Kenneth J. H. Phillips published in June 2001, Pp. 40-47, Scientific American, The Paradox of the Sun’s Hot Corona
- Image, Anatomy of The Sun, http://www.space.com/spacewatch/sun_anatomy.html


    Apparently astrophysicists were ‘completely’ surprised to find gas clouds falling back into the suns corona. This process doesn’t surprise me at all. While I can’t explain the phenomena in precise terminology I suggest this is physical evidence of not just the increasing mass of the sun but also a partial explanation for why the corona is composed of material that will be ejected violently once the sun’s mass decreases.

“November 20, 2001 - Mysterious clouds of gas falling towards the Sun have been spotted with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. They go against the fast-moving streams of gas that pour out continuously into space in the solar wind.”

“About 8,000 inflow events have now been logged -- most of them since 1998 while the Sun has been at its most active, as judged by the high count of sunspots.”

"For decades, we've been able to observe cooler gas rising and then falling, under the influence of gravity, lower down in the solar atmosphere," notes Dr. Joe Gurman, NASA's project scientist for SOHO. "Until now, though, the hotter, electrically charged gas higher in the Sun's outer atmosphere, the corona, has only been seen flowing up and away.

"We are seeing something opposite to what we expected," says Sheeley. "Normally, when this happens, we initially doubt the observation -- suspecting, for example, that the movie is running backwards. But when we confirm that the observation is really correct, we are forced to change our way of thinking. Such mind-changing discoveries help us past temporary snags in our understanding and inevitably lead to progress."
- Goddard Space Flight Center, November 20, 2001, SOHO’S LATEST SURPRISE: GAS NEAR THE SUN HEADING THE WRONG WAY, http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20011120sohogas.html


    Please keep an open mind on what massive solar bursts often called ‘novae’ might be and recognize ‘similar’ events occur under different conditions. Be aware that astrophysicists are learning new things about solar events that are fundamentally challenging their assumptions. In this article astrophysicists are surprised to find the sun producing gamma rays.

“A major priority for high-energy astrophysicists has been to isolate and understand gamma-ray bursts, which appear without warning somewhere in the observable universe about three times a day.”

“Left: The sun as seen in gamma rays by COMPTEL during a June 15, 1991, solar flare. The sun is ordinarily not known to produce gamma rays, but during this solar flare, steams of neutrons poured into the intrastellar medium to create gamma rays. This image provided the first evidence that the sun can accelerate particles for several hours. This phenomenon was not observed before CGRO and represents a new understanding of solar flares.”
- Dave Dooling, dave.dooling@msfc.nasa.gov, Cataloging the gamma-ray universe, weighing black holes, and a hat trick , http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/compton_ast.htm


    Identifying the fact that the sun can produce gamma rays is very significant because some astrophysicists have been trying to find evidence that Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB) are a possible cause of mass extinctions on Earth and surprise, even contributed to the formation of our solar system.

"Gamma rays are the highest energy form of radiation," says NASA's Jerry Fishman, who leads the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE), an instrument aboard the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. "They are higher energy than X-rays -- they are very penetrating. They'll go through several inches of steel, for example."

“Another group of researchers, writing in "Astronomy and Astrophysics," recently suggested that a nearby gamma ray burst long-ago might have seeded our solar system, providing the needed influx of energy to urge a vast disk of sun-circling dust to begin forming into small chunks, which eventually became the asteroids and planets.”
- Robert Roy Britt, 21 October 1999, Gamma Ray Bursts and Supernovae, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/grb_supernova_991021.html
- Image of the sun, Feb. 6, 2002, SPACE.com Cam: Sun Snapshot,
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/sun_cam.html


“Shooting out jets of energy or blobs of stuff the size of Earth at nearly light-speed, exploding stars called supernovae may hold more potential peril than anyone had ever imagined, according to a growing suspicion among some researchers.”

While scientists have long tried to link supernovae to mass extinctions on Earth, there is no solid evidence. But recent observations of high-energy emissions in space have some scientists suggesting that our planet may in fact get fried every now and then.”

“For three decades, scientists have been puzzling over brief but intense flashes of energy known as gamma ray bursts. These GRBs, as they are called, pack more punch than any other cosmic event. Their source has been a mystery, but so far they have been observed only coming from the far corners of the cosmos.”
- Robert Roy Britt, 19 June 2001, Cosmic Cannon: How an Exploding Star Could Fry Earth, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/gammaray_bursts_010522-1.html &
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/gammaray_bursts_010522-2.html


    Here is a description of what may or may not be a coronal release. I suspect however that it is because of the way the nova ‘pulsed’ and continued to shine after the burst. These findings according to the article have left the researchers searching for radically new explanations because the evidence defies prior predictions of a nova event.   In the article they also claim that novae are usually found in binary star systems where one star ‘feeds’ off of gas from its companion. I believe this is significant when you consider my prior identification of 8,000 observations of gas falling back into our own sun.

“As Nova Aquila wound down in brightness between April and October 2000, when the observations were made, its X-ray output was seen to pulsate over periods lasting roughly 40 minutes.

"We have never seen a nova perform in this way," Starrfield said last week at a Chandra Observatory symposium here. "We don't know what causes this."

“A colleague of Starrfield's, Jeremy Drake of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, speculated that the pulsations might represent the outer layers of the white dwarf expanding and shrinking. But then came a stark spike of activity.”

“In one swift burst -- just 15 minutes long -- the X-ray output jumped to six times the previous levels. Again, an explanation will require further study. But in an interview, Starrfield said the spike could have been similar to flares on our Sun, when twisted magnetic fields snap and hurl hot gas into space. Or, he said, a blob of hot gas might have crashed onto the surface of the white dwarf.”

"At least as important, our Chandra observations told us that thermonuclear fusion reactions were still occurring on the surface layers of the white dwarf," said Robert D. Gehrz of the University of Minnesota. "Eight months after discovery, the explosion was not over."
- Robert Roy Britt, 10 September 2001, Going Nova: New Surprises From an Ancient Star, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/nova_burst_010910.html


    From many years of observation of sunspots on the surface of the sun a cyclical pattern of increasing and decreasing activity was found. Researchers have named the cycle the Solar Maximum or Solar Max for short.

“Scientists became aware that the sun went through cycles and changes by observing sunspots, the darker, relatively cooler areas of the sun. The number of sunspots can be an indication of the degree of solar activity. The average number of visible sunspots varies over time, increasing and decreasing on a regular cycle of between 9.5 to 11 years, on average about 10.8 years. An amateur astronomer, Heinrich Schwabe, was the first to note this cycle in 1843. The part of the cycle with low sunspot activity is referred to as "solar minimum," the portion with high activity is known as "solar maximum." The year 2000, it is believed, will be the solar maximum for the current solar cycle.”
- webteam@exploratorium.edu, Copyright ©2000, The Exploratorium, What is Solar Max?, http://www.solarmax2000.com/whatis.html


    According to the SolarMax2000 web site the cycle averages 10.8 years. Today to state that the cycle averages 11.3 years would be an apparent misrepresentation of the historical data unless perhaps the average has been adjusted based on the current ‘extended cycle’.

“The flurry of Sun flares and expulsions seen over the past two years has begun to ebb, and activity will continue to decline for the next five years or so. Now it has set into motion a series of salutary changes to the planet's long-term climate and perhaps even daily weather.”

“The Sun has rhythm. Beyond its propensity to show up in the East every 24 hours (a rhythm actually dictated by Earth's rotation) there is a deeply rooted cycle of activity within the Sun that increases and decreases every 11.3 years, on average.”
- Robert Roy Britt, 28 August 2001, Solar Max is Over, Earth's Future Looks Brighter, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/sun_weather_010828-1.html & http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/sun_weather_010828-2.html & http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/sun_weather_010828-3.html


    According to SolarMax2000, this last “deeply rooted” cycle was supposed to have peaked more than a year ago in December 2000. Interestingly the http://www.solarmax2000.com/news.html page even stopped updating their news stories since December 2000 but solar activity continues to increase.

"This is a unique solar maximum in history," said Dr. George Withbroe, Science Director for NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Program. "The images and data are beyond the wildest expectations of the astronomers of a generation ago."
- NASA Press Release, December 22, 2000, Watching the Angry Sun - Solar physicists are enjoying their best-ever look at a Solar Maximum thanks to NOAA and NASA satellites, http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast22dec_1.htm

    In August 2001, I predicted in accordance with my theory, that solar activity would continue to intensify and not diminish. Following that prediction there have been at least two major solar eruptions or CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejection). The second one was the largest ever recorded.

“The Sun unleashed a powerful "solar prominence" Friday, Jan. 4. Then instruments on SOHO recorded what one researcher says could be the most complex coronal mass ejection the spacecraft has ever witnessed. Coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, are tremendous outpourings of energy. This one involved billions and billions of tons of charged particles hurled into space at 3.5 million kilometers per hour, Brekke said.”
- Robert Roy Britt, 04 January 2002, New Picture: Solar Eruption Among Most Complex Ever Recorded, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/solar_flare_020104.html


    Recently, (1/23/02) at Space.com we have an article from Tony Phillips of NASA performing a little public relations spin on the ‘Solar Max’ claiming the increasing intensity is explainable due to a ‘Double Peak’. I call it a PR spin because if the ‘double peak’ had occurred during the last two peaks why was its reoccurrence not mentioned or predicted in prior Solar Max articles? Why are they claiming it is understandable ‘after’ the solar eruptions have increased in frequency and violence? Are they disputing the statements about the current solar maximum’s uniqueness made by Dr. George Withbroe as I previously cited?

“But now, as 2002 unfolds, it’s back. The Sun is again peppered with spots, and eruptions are frequent. Says David Hathaway, a solar physicist at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center: "The current solar cycle appears to be double-peaked," and the second peak has arrived.”
- Tony Phillips, Science.nasa.gov, 23 January 2002, Sun's Fury Returns, Marking Double Peak in Cycle, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/solar_max_020123.htm


    It appears to me that NASA is on a frantic search to discover more about the sun and its effect on Earth as they have launched at least three satellites and one probe in the last 9 months for this purpose, Genesis, Jason 1, TIMED and HESSI. I cite these articles because I recommend keeping an eye on their findings. To review the launch logs you could look here, http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/explore_the_archives.html. If you wish to find information on current solar activity one place to explore is, http://www.space.com/spacewatch/space_weather.html#solar.

“NASA's Genesis spacecraft will begin its primary science mission of collecting particles from the solar wind when it begins to orbit a point between the Sun and Earth on Friday, Nov. 16.”

“On its return, the spacecraft swoops past Earth and around another Lagrange point, L2, a mirror image of L1 on the opposite side of Earth, to position itself to enter Earth's atmosphere and return its precious cargo of solar wind samples in August 2004.”
- NASA Press Office, 16 November 2001, Genesis Begins Primary Science Mission, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/genesis_update_011116.html


Jason 1, a joint effort of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the French space agency CNES, is designed to measure the surface topography of the ocean and by using that data help build more accurate models of how changes in the oceans affects Earth's climate.”

“Meanwhile, the TIMED spacecraft -- a NASA satellite built by Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory -- holds a complement of instruments that will take a variety of measurements on a region of Earth's atmosphere that has traditionally not been studied because it's been difficult to do so until now.”

“Temperatures, wind patterns and solar radiation are among the data points TIMED will scan for between the altitudes of 40-110 miles (60-180 kilometers) above Earth's surface. TIMED is short for Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energetics and Dynamics.”
- Jim Banke, 07 December 2001, 100th Delta 2 Lofts Earth Monitoring Spacecraft for U.S., French Space Agencies, http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/delta2_launch_011207.html


    The following article from Feb. 5, 2002 says the HESSI satellite’s launch has been delayed by nearly two years for a variety of reasons. They note this delay means they have missed the Solar Max peak. I predict they will have more then sufficient opportunity to examine solar flares and CMEs.

“A revolutionary NASA satellite at long last is ready to set sail on an $85 million mission to shed light on what ignites the most powerful explosions in the solar system.”

“What's more, the unpredictable outbursts often are accompanied by coronal mass ejections -- billion-ton clouds of gas that billow away from the sun, triggering geomagnetic storms that can knock out power grids that transmit electricity to homes and businesses.”

“Enter NASA's High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager. More commonly called HESSI, the spacecraft will be carried aloft inside an Orbital Sciences Corp. Pegasus XL rocket mounted to the belly of a Lockheed-built L-1011 aircraft.”

Yet even the most erudite solar physicists have no idea what sparks solar flares, or how they unleash so much energy so quickly. And scientists would like to figure out how to forecast impending solar eruptions so that more accurate space weather warnings can be issued.”
- Todd Halvorson, Cape CanaveralBureau Chief, 05 February 2002, NASA Spacecraft Seeks to Unravel Explosive Solar Mystery, http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/pegasus_preview_020205.html

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