back to article Sun lets loose with THREE record eruptions in 24 hours

The Sun looks like it's ramping up to its expected solar maximum this year, after it let loose three X-class solar flares in just 24 hours. Our solar system's parent star lashed out late Sunday night and again on Monday with two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from its upper left side. The Sun followed that up on Monday night …

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  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    But hang on

    IIRC that private VC funded trip to Mars was meant to be set for 2018 to hit a solar minimum

    That would put us 1/2 way through a cycle.

    1. Rob Carriere

      Re: But hang on

      11 year cycle. Distance between min and max is a half-cycle.

      11/2 = 5.5.

      2013 ish + 5.5 = 2018 ish

  2. bigphil9009

    Minimum?

    I had thought that we were in the middle of a protracted solar minimum, with all the associated dire warnings about mini-Ice Ages etc... how come we're now heading for a maximum? I'm confuzzled.

    1. David Pollard

      Re: Minimum?

      Remember this is El Reg and the topic is associated with climate change.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Minimum?

        Ahh, yes - good point :-)

      2. Joe User
        FAIL

        Re: Minimum?

        "the topic is associated with climate change."

        It is? Where does the author say one word about climate-related anything in the article?

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Minimum?

          @Joe User

          "It is? Where does the author say one word about climate-related anything in the article?"

          There is a comments section

          1. Joe User

            Re: Minimum?

            @codejunky

            Note that I said "the author", not "the peanut gallery".

            1. David Pollard
              Joke

              Re: Minimum?

              Icon for those with no sense of humour.

    2. Rob Carriere

      Re: Minimum?

      Different time scales of minimum and maximum.

      NASA is talking about the maximum of the current 11-year cycle. The people who argue we're moving into a protracted minimum mean that the current and several following 11-year cycles would be much weaker than usual, some perhaps to the point of being undetectable.

      In other words, NASA is saying "This is maximum of the decade", the minimists are saying "These maxima will be the smallest maxima of the millennium". These two statements do not contradict each other.

      Now whether the minimists are correct and whether such a minimum would have effects on the climate, is a matter of some controversy.

  3. Zippy's Sausage Factory
    Trollface

    Usually maximums take a break halfway through and hit a minimum, now we're coming into a maximum.

    Of course all the government's spy bill will be irrelevant if we have another Carrington event and all the world's silicon gets wiped, but hey... I'm stocking up on tin foil hats and tins of baked beans in advance, just in case. They're not getting my previous bodily fluids, that's for sure!

  4. Mr Nobody 1

    Record ?

    This is one of the most inactive solar cycles for a long time.

    1. Isendel Steel
      Coat

      Fluids

      are you storing those as well ?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Fluids

        And from his previous body too. A re-incarnated Buddhist survivalist tin-foil hat wearer. There's a turn-up for the books...

        Don't forget to burn those hair and nail clippings. The Gub'mint is going through your bins looking for them every day. They disguise it by calling it re-cycling you know. Remember you heard it here first.

    2. Wzrd1

      "They're not getting my previous bodily fluids, that's for sure!"

      Purity of essence.

      As one who started his military career in nuclear weapons, I *loved* Doctor Strangelove.

      Seriously though, I remember back when predictions for this solar cycle were that it would be a heavily active one, with a high potential (relatively) for another Carrington Event.

      No fear here. I've got my sonic ready to reverse the neutron flow and shunt the excess to a flux capacitor.

      1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

        "No fear here. I've got my sonic ready to reverse the neutron flow and shunt the excess to a flux capacitor."

        Don't cross the streams!

    3. Wzrd1

      Re: Record ?

      True. The funny thing is, scientists were predicting the most active solar cycle in centuries.

      Then, this cycle started and so far, fizzled out.

      Don't really have a problem with that. Another Carrington Event would get really, *REALLY* expensive.

  5. Shagbag
    Thumb Up

    two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from its upper left side

    I emitted two mass ejections from by lower back side shortly after breakfast this morning.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from its upper left side

      Ah, but did you eject them after drinking a lot of fizzy lemonade? If so then they could really be Corona Mass Ejections, or....

      If you had had lots of condensed milk then they could be Coronation Mass Ejections

      If you had sweet corn then they could be Corn Mass Ejections (particularly messy)

      If their was no solids involved then the could be Aroma Mass Ejections

      Personally I fear the Korma Mass Ejections

      :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from its upper left side

        If you're in Lester Haine's part of the world, the typical burrito breakfast could lead to a ¡Caramba! Mass Ejection

  6. ian 22
    Facepalm

    Bleeding obvious

    I've known about solar flares and CMEs for donkey's years, only now do I relate them to controlled fusion. Of course we've failed! We've failed because our reactors (Tokamaks, etc.) are creating flares as does old Sol, however our reactors have limited quantities of plasma, unlike the sun. Perhaps emulating the sun is the wrong path to controlled fusion.

    1. itzman

      Re: Bleeding obvious

      Indeed. If e cant keep fusions sustained and built te equivalent of a gas turbine, lets have a nuclear internal reaction 4 stroke fusion engine.

      super chargers and ceramic pistons in ceramic cylinders massively compress hydrogen, a laser acts as spark plug or even do something cute with a spallation target on the piston, the resulting fusion 'flash' drives the piston down and spins up yer rear wheels. For more efficiency run the hot exhaust gases through a steam plant to drive a steam turbine.

      Never mind keeping a plasma stable, just have a series of big bangs..

      Get that running at 20k RPM and it will make a perfect formula one engine 'Look ma, no fossil fuel'

      1. Rob Carriere

        Re: Bleeding obvious

        I wants me some of that ceramic! I think you've just invented Puppeteer Hull Metal.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bleeding obvious

          I was going to come up with a joke involving Serge Gainsbourg and the importance of being hard, but I kinda gave up.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bleeding obvious

            Besides, aniseed lollipops aren't probably so hard.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bleeding obvious

        This takes me back to the research department where I spend several happy if underpaid years, and the engineer who commented that the perfect IC engine would be made entirely of ceramics with a very low friction surface: no oil needed, run at very high temperatures for maximum efficiency, what a pity that a single premature detonation would cause parts to shatter.

        In fact, fusion isn't needed. The simplest approach is the plutonium powered Stirling engine. The Stirling technology works, there is plenty of plutonium about, a simple adjustment system quickly varies the engine output, and nobody steals your car. The shielding does make the acceleration a bit wimpish, though.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bleeding obvious

        I demand it be made generally out of brass fittings and cast iron. With polished wood inlays.

      4. Denarius
        Thumb Up

        Re: Bleeding obvious

        close. A few designs rely on pulsed fusion, the proposed Project Orion reborn using pulsed fusion rocket to get to Mars in 30 days is an example. Pulsed laser inertial confinement is another. Stable tokomacs are much harder than they seemed 40 years ago.

        As for adiabatic engines, problem was lubricants. Isuzu had a diesel ceramic engine running AFAIRC in 1980s. heard nothing of it since. Probably produced enough nitrogen oxides to corrode following cars enroute.

  7. g e
    Coat

    Another casualty of climate change

    Poor old Sun.

    1. itzman
      Devil

      Re: Another casualty of climate change

      I mean, what are the decommissioning plans for the SUN? why isn't it shielded? we really should ban fusion reaction - its far too dangerous and leads to all sorts of emissions of dangerous radiation... With renewable energy, who needs the sun?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Massive

    Those flares were massive. What if they are just a warmup? What if the Carrington event was not the maximum size of flares either? If we look at other stars that shoot plasma for light years off their poles, why couldn't the sun do the same thing? And the work up to that state is violent ejections in multiple directions for some period of time? Holy crap people. The thing that gives us life will eventually kill us one way or another. Captives waiting for a prolonged and horrendous death from their life giver. Such drama.

    1. elderlybloke
      Pint

      Re: Massive

      Common old G type stars like the Sun don't shoot plasma for light years off their poles.

      That is done by Black Holes.

    2. Death Boffin
      Mushroom

      Re: Massive

      The sun has been remarkably stable for 4 Billion years. If it had been shooting off life threatening flares, well life would be gone and you wouldn't be here.

      Technology is another issue. Another Carrington event would do bad things to our technological society. The human race would probably recover, but it might take a while.

      Nothing like a thermonuclear eruption to ruin your whole day...

    3. Denarius
      Trollface

      Re: Massive

      Trolling I assume ? OK, I am bored. Those flares were piddling. One early this century (2003?) was estimated at X48. it went off the scale of instruments.

      We don't know how big the suns flares get. NASA estimates Carrington event was biggest for last 500 years. On what basis I do not know. What is known is that the Sun is unusually stable for a G star.

      Sun can't blast big jets off the poles because it is not rotating at relativistic speeds and has no massive accretion disk and huge magnetic field.

      And rejoice. If another Carrington event happens the greens will have their nirvahna. Mega-deaths from starvation and thirst, followed by compulsary enjoyment of the drudgery of a subsistence lifesyle for the survivors. No doubt some of them will break faith and eat meat in their stressed state.

      Personally I think that death by diabetes or idiot 4 wheel drive owner is more likely for the majority of us.

      Also plausible is a rerun of 1315-1325. Look it up. People died of famine big time when the last warm period ended, suddenly.

    4. Denarius
      Meh

      Re: Massive

      as for warmup. Not really. The usual models for Solar Cycle 24 have not worked. It is weaker than predicted 5 years ago. The minimum ran two years longer than expected. Modified models indicated a late weak peak last year which did not show. A weak peak ITIRC happened earlier this year with a second peak predicted later this year. Uncommon, but not unknown. Seems the double peak model is correct. The magnetic gas conveyor belts 100,000 under chromosphere seem to have slowed. Consequences are uncertain, but some models suggest a period of prolonged minima, hence discussion of a new mini Ice Age.

      1. Wzrd1

        Re: Massive

        "The usual models for Solar Cycle 24 have not worked."

        Quite true. Usually, when such models fail in such a spectacular manner, we learn quite a lot.

        So, though the scientists are currently gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair, eventually some bright one will figure out what caused the models to lead them down the merry path and make a proper model that nearly explains everything.

    5. Wzrd1

      Re: Massive

      Sol could shoot plasma from its poles until the cows come home. It wouldn't bother Earth until Sol lost enough mass to no longer be capable of sustained fusion.

      Earth doesn't orbit anywhere near the poles, we have a generally equatorial orbit, well a handful of degrees off of that, but close enough for government work.

  9. Winkypop Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Science

    This ^

    1. Spoonsinger
      Angel

      Religion

      This ^

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Confused

        This ^

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          This

          That ^

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: This

            The other.

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: The other

              That's on Page 3 of the other Sun...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reg: Suggestion - use "The Sun" or "Sol"

    Given that "Sun" is ambiguous in the headline context (Did the maker of computers and languages that was assimilated by Oracle just release three products? or did the large unshielded fusion reactor over there burp 3 times?:), might I suggest using "The Sun" for the large fusion reactor, and "Sun" for the company?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reg: Suggestion - use "The Sun" or "Sol"

      It's more ambiguous than that, as there is a British daily comic called The Sun whose proprietor's views (about Europe, the Labour Party and political correctness) frequently erupt on its pages, and in which twin peaks are to be seen on Page 3.

      I think that the author of the article was thinking of this too, hence the reference.

      For real disambiguation I suggest "Nearby type G star lets loose with three coronal mass ejections during one local planetary rotational period".

      1. Yag

        Re: Reg: Suggestion - use "The Sun" or "Sol"

        Type G2V star, please... And you might still confuse it with Alpha Centauri A...

        1. Spoonsinger
          Coat

          Re: Reg: Suggestion - use "The Sun" or "Sol"

          It's about time we had a proper "galactic coordinate" system not based on the sun being the centre. (Just wanting to future proof like).

          1. Yag

            "galactic coordinate" system

            If you want to be future proof, why do you want to stay at the local galaxy scale?

            (and even a galactic coordinate system will need some rework after the merging with Andromeda in a few millions of years)

            1. Denarius
              Meh

              Re: "galactic coordinate" system

              a bit longer, about 4 USA billion years for first pass, full merge complete by 10 billion years.

        2. Wzrd1

          Re: Reg: Suggestion - use "The Sun" or "Sol"

          "Type G2V star, please... And you might still confuse it with Alpha Centauri A..."

          I'd rather get confused and end up at Alpha Centauri A than at Sagittarius A*. The latter is in a lousy neighborhood.

    2. Daniel B.
      Coat

      Re: Reg: Suggestion - use "The Sun" or "Sol"

      So, I see I wasn't the only one that read "Sun" and assumed Sun Microsystems. Sadly gone down the Oracle's belly, though if you watch closely, there's a Sun/Oracle logo to be seen in Iron Man 3...

  11. Fab De Marco

    Upper left side?

    I'm sure one of you clever people can correct me, but where is the upper left side of the Sun???

    My last Science lesson was some time ago, back then the Sun was a spherical mass not a 2 dimensional circle in the sky.

    Draw a circle on the ground and I will show you its upper left side. Hand me a football and its upper left side will depend on which way round it was facing.

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: Upper left side?

      go up in space, turn left at the moon and the top left side of the Sun is just past the first turning on the right

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Upper left side?

        But go during the night otherwise you'll be blinded looking at it.

  12. tweell

    BOFH excuse of the day

    I'll have to add coronal mass ejection to the excuse clipboard. It's like sunspots, only sciencier.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Carrington event

    I seem to recall reading that this event was due to a very rare configuration of multiple large sunspots which generated a beta-gamma-delta field that built up a massive amount of energy over several days.

    This is a bit like overcharging a capacitor, eventually the dielectric gives way and explodes dumping all the energy into a tiny spot in a millisecond.

    It is thankfully unusual, the last event was in 1991 and not Earth directed.

    AC/DC 6EQUJ()*U"$<NO CARRIER>

  14. jonfr
    Mushroom

    No record

    This is no record, the internet still works along with mobile phones and the works.

  15. BigFire

    Inconstant Moon

    Go and read the short story Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven. It's the end of the world.

    1. Denarius
      Happy

      Re: Inconstant Moon

      cant be, California survived. Unless the follow up story had the Big One strike as the steam cooled.

  16. harmjschoonhoven
    Unhappy

    Re: youtube ywfewbzmvrw

    No in-picture timestamps (with eight minute ambiguity of course).

  17. Trevor 3

    Daft Question

    The CME's were not ejected towards Earth....does that mean not ejected in the direction we are in, or not ejected in the path of where we will be when it gets here?

    1. Hubert Thrunge Jr.
      Alert

      Re: Daft Question

      Not coming this way guv. It won't affect us.

      Moving on....

      At last scientists are shouting loud enough that it is dear old Sol that controls our planets climate, and is f. all to do with people driving SUV's, burning coal, etc....

      Perhaps the "Warmists" will shut up and they can remove all of the tax burden that we're suffering to help stave off climate change. Stop wasting BILLIONS on studies and other rhetoric relating to our "Carbon Footprint", and just get the hell on with life.

      The correct action shouldn't be "Stop Climate Change" but "Adapt for Climate Change" because it's going to happen, regardless of whether the Greens get us to return to the Stone Age.

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