Thornhill wrote:...What causes a sunspot?
In the electrical model, the Sun receives electrical energy from interstellar space in the form of a glow discharge. Plasma experiments show that some energy will be stored in a donut shaped 'plasmoid' above the Sun's equator.
Thornhill wrote:The energy is released sporadically from the plasmoid to the mid-latitudes of the Sun. (Incidentally, plasmoid resonances may give rise to simultaneous flares on opposite sides of the central body, as recently reported on the Sun). The global tornado storm is pushed aside by more powerful charge sheath vortexes that deliver electrical energy from the plasmoid to much lower levels. The resulting holes in the tornado level, or photosphere, are what we call sunspots. Rather than being a site where energy flow has been restricted, a sunspot is a site where it is enhanced. That explains why 'they are launch pads for complex expulsions of plasma that race through the solar system.' The giant electrical tornadoes that form sunspots accelerate particles in their powerful electromagnetic fields, generating UV light and x-rays instead of visible light. However, because temperature is a measure of random motion, the field-directed motion of the particles within the sunspot vortex appears 'cool.'
This model can explain why sunspots of the same magnetic polarity are strangely attracted toward each other instead of being repelled. (Try pushing together two similar poles of two magnets). The sunspots are receiving electric current flowing in parallel rotating streams, which results in their being mutually attracted over long distances and repelled at short distances. That, in turn, explains why sunspots often seem to maintain their identity even if they come close enough to merge. There is also other evidence that suggests the presence of electric currents aligned with the magnetic field in a sunspot.
Granulation has been observed in the umbra, or dark centers of sunspots, by overexposing sunspot images. The umbral granules are more closely packed than photospheric granules. That is to be expected on this model because the current in the large charge sheath vortex forming the sunspot is being delivered to denser atmosphere at lower depths. Umbral granules should not be there if sunspots are formed by magnetic throttling of the convection process. .
The Nature article also mentions 'fainter structures in the umbra' These features are associated with the inward migration of a bright dot followed by repeated brightening and fading on a timescale of minutes. This suggests that a larger fraction of umbrae than observed so far could have faint or small-scale filamentary structure.' The nature of a charge sheath vortex is to tend to compress material inside and lengthen the tube in both directions. Since it is also acting as a conduit for electrical energy, it seems that the moving bright dots are small-scale filamentary lightning emanating from the lower ends of the penumbral filament vortex.
Committee on the Societal and Economic Impacts of Severe Space Weather Events:A Workshop, National Research Council Authoring Organizations
The adverse effects of extreme space weather on modern technology--power grid outages, high-frequency communication blackouts, spacecraft anomalies--are well known and well documented, and the physical processes underlying space weather are also generally well understood. Less well documented and understood, however, ...
Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe
New Scientist, 23 March 2009
"IT IS midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived. Within a few seconds, electric bulbs dim and flicker, then become unusually bright for a fleeting moment. Then all the lights in the state go out. Within 90 seconds, the entire eastern half of the US is without power.
"A year later and millions of Americans are dead and the nation's infrastructure lies in tatters. The World Bank declares America a developing nation. Europe, Scandinavia, China and Japan are also struggling to recover from the same fateful event - a violent storm, 150 million kilometres away on the surface of the sun.
"It sounds ridiculous. Surely the sun couldn't create so profound a disaster on Earth. Yet an extraordinary report funded by NASA and issued by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in January this year claims it could do just that."
"The bright region is an unassociated solar flare. When particles from the eruption reach Earth on the evening of August 3/4, they may trigger a brilliant auroral display known as the Northern Lights."
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