Researchers explain magnetic field misbehavior in solar flares

May 22, 2013
New research led by a Johns Hopkins mathematical physicist focuses on the "misbehavior" of magnetic fields in solar flares. In this image, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured an X1.2 class solar flare, peaking on May 15, 2013. Credit: NASA/SDO

When a solar flare filled with charged particles erupts from the sun, its magnetic fields sometime break a widely accepted rule of physics. The flux-freezing theorem dictates that the magnetic lines of force should flow away in lock-step with the particles, whole and unbroken. Instead, the lines sometimes break apart and quickly reconnect in a way that has mystified astrophysicists.

But in a paper published in the May 23 issue of the journal Nature, an interdisciplinary research team led by a Johns Hopkins mathematical physicist says it has found a key to the mystery. The , the group proposed, is turbulence—the same sort of violent disorder that can jostle a passenger jet when it occurs in the atmosphere. Using complex computer modeling to mimic what happens to magnetic fields when they encounter turbulence within a solar flare, the researchers built their case, explaining why the usual rule did not apply.

"The flux-freezing theorem often explains things beautifully," said Gregory Eyink, a Department of and Statistics professor who was lead author of the Nature study. "But in other instances, it fails miserably. We wanted to figure out why this failure occurs."

The flux-freezing theorem was developed 70 years ago by Hannes Alfvén, who later won a for closely related work. His principle states that of force are carried along in a moving fluid like strands of thread cast into a river, and thus they can never "break" and reconnect. But scientists have discovered that within violent solar flares, the principle does not always hold true. Studies of these flares have determined that their sometimes do break like stretched rubber bands and reconnect in as little as 15 minutes, releasing vast amounts of energy that power the flare.

"But the flux-freezing principle of modern implies that this process in the should take a million years!" Eyink said. "A big problem in astrophysics is that no one could explain why flux-freezing works in some cases but not others."

Some scientists suspected that turbulence was playing havoc with the behavior predicted by this principle. To find out, Eyink teamed up with other experts in astrophysics, mechanical engineering, data management and computer science, based at Johns Hopkins and other institutions. "By necessity, this was a highly collaborative effort," Eyink said. "Everyone was contributing their expertise. No one person could have accomplished this."

The team developed a computer simulation to replicate what happens under various conditions to the charged particles that exist in a plasma state of matter within solar flares.

"Our answer was very surprising," Eyink said. "Magnetic flux-freezing no longer holds true when the plasma becomes turbulent. Most physicists expected that flux-freezing would play an even larger role as the plasma became more highly conducting and more turbulent, but, as a matter of fact, it breaks down completely. In an even greater surprise, we found that the motion of the magnetic field lines becomes completely random. I do not mean 'chaotic,' but instead as unpredictable as quantum mechanics. Rather than flowing in an orderly, deterministic fashion, the lines instead spread out like a roiling plume of smoke."

Although some scholars may still believe there are other explanations for solar flares, Eyink said, "I think we made a pretty compelling case that turbulence alone can account for field-line breaking."

The way the researchers from different disciplines teamed up with Eyink to solve the solar flare puzzle was particularly noteworthy.

"We used ground-breaking new database methods, like those employed in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, combined with high-performance computing techniques and original mathematical developments," he said. "The work required a perfect marriage of physics, mathematics and computer science to develop a fundamentally new approach to performing research with very large datasets."

Eyink added that the research could lead to a better understanding of and mass ejections of material from the sun's corona. Such powerful "space weather" or geomagnetic storms can endanger astronauts, knock out communications satellites and even lead to massive blackouts of electrical power grids on Earth, he said.

Explore further: Monster galaxies gain weight by eating smaller neighbors

More information: Flux-freezing breakdown in high-conductivity magnetohydrodynamic turbulence, www.nature.com/nature/journal/… ull/nature12128.html

The turbulence data on which the analysis relies are publicly available at turbulence.pha.jhu.edu .

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cantdrive85
1 / 5 (14) May 22, 2013
Wow, the continued misinterpretation of Alfvèn is astounding. Here we are in the 21st century and they're still talking about frozen magnetic fields and reconnection. Not only did Alfven spend much of his life lamenting the fact he even suggested "frozen fields". He was also clear that magnetic reconnection was in fact a breakdown in the ELECTRIC CIRCUIT, not "strings in a river". "Strands of string in a river", that is quite an unusual description of an electro current. Morons!
Twin
1 / 5 (12) May 22, 2013
@cantdrive85 I have no "side" in the EU debate. From what I can discover your remarks above are true. It seems those who disagree feel it sufficient to down vote you & run off without comment. I don't seem to recall that tactic as part of a valid debate strategy.
Q-Star
3 / 5 (10) May 22, 2013
@cantdrive85 I have no "side" in the EU debate. From what I can discover your remarks above are true. It seems those who disagree feel it sufficient to down vote you & run off without comment. I don't seem to recall that tactic as part of a valid debate strategy.

an
Many have tried, & failed. He refuses to learn even the basics of physics, changes the questions when he gets an answer that refutes his "theory" (actually he hasn't one.) And thinks people like Richard Feynman, Albert Einstein (& all the other Nobel Laureates except Alfven) & anyone who has attended a college are morons.

Certainly ya have seen him in action for for the last eight months? And before if ya count the usernames that have been banned.

It's a good thing ya found his remarks to be true. If ya had pointed out which ones are false, he'd respond by changing the subject of the debate. Go ahead give it a go,,, most of us have.It's entertaining until he repeats something for the 500th time.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (12) May 22, 2013
Hannes Alfvén was explicit in his condemnation of the reconnecting concept:

"Of course there can be no magnetic merging energy transfer. Despite.. this, we have witnessed at the same time an enormously voluminous formalism building up based on this obviously erroneous concept.

I was naïve enough to believe that [magnetic reconnection] would die by itself in the scientific community, and I concentrated my work on more pleasant problems. To my great surprise the opposite has occurred: 'merging' … seems to be increasingly powerful. Magnetospheric physics and solar wind physics today are no doubt in a chaotic state, and a major reason for this is that part of the published papers are science and part pseudoscience, perhaps even with a majority in the latter group."

http://www.thunde...heel.htm

There's 5001, and the tally will continue as the pseudoscience continues...
yep
1.3 / 5 (12) May 23, 2013
When these loops break they create Langmuir bursts. http://spp.astro....muir.pdf
Having a college degree does not exclude one from being a moron.
Much of cosmology is based on a priori, that is why so much reality does not fit the model.
Many of you are unable to follow candrive85's comments because your faith in the standard model. How can you learn when you already know the answers? So you will continue to discredit and deny any possibility of another truth until the data forces you to realize our standard models came about when all we had was our eyes to see. We now have an array of instruments in space sending us data on both sides of the visible spectrum. It is time for new models as our old ones have become myth and no amount of black hole dark matter voodoo will resurrect them
alfie_null
5 / 5 (7) May 23, 2013
Many of you are unable to follow candrive85's comments because your faith in the standard model. How can you learn when you already know the answers? So you will continue to discredit and deny any possibility of another truth until the data forces you to realize our standard models came about when all we had was our eyes to see. We now have an array of instruments in space sending us data on both sides of the visible spectrum. It is time for new models as our old ones have become myth and no amount of black hole dark matter voodoo will resurrect them

Lets see. On the one side we have an interdisciplinary group of professionals, collaborating. People whose credentials and CVs offer some indication of worthiness. On the other, we have an anonymous individual, hiding behind a pseudonym, who tells us that outside himself much of what the rest of the world knows about this subject is wrong.

Don't know how I can make it more clear. Take care calling others morons.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (6) May 23, 2013
It seems those who disagree feel it sufficient to down vote you & run off without comment. I don't seem to recall that tactic as part of a valid debate strategy.


It isn't a debate and the voting would have no effect if it were, science is based on hard evidence, not opinion.

The down-votes are just an indication for any passing laymen that the particular post is psuedo-science from a crank. Sometimes even cranks talk accurately about some aspect, usually something other than their favourite hobbyhorse and then they get up-votes, credit where it's due, but most of the mission posters only talk about one thing so just see endless downs.
no fate
5 / 5 (1) May 23, 2013
" Studies of these flares have determined that their magnetic field lines sometimes do break like stretched rubber bands and reconnect in as little as 15 minutes, releasing vast amounts of energy that power the flare."

It looks like some confusion in terminology between flux lines (which are imaginary and indicate direction and magnitude of force) and flux ropes which appear to be the phenomenon described in the article and here.

http://www.nasa.g...451.html

Although these things influence each other they aren't the same. The second author on the paper is Ethan Vishniac, the present editor in chief for APJ and well versed in MHD. He knows a bit about plasma I'd wager. I don't think a paper has been written about results from the SDSS that didn't have input from Alex Szalay.

Save for a terminology glitch this theory is sound.
Twin
1 / 5 (7) May 23, 2013
Ha Ha Ha !! someone has gone back & down voted almost all my old posts. Seems it's dangerous to wander from his acceptable path. What a twerp. as much as I hate the phrase --- LOL.
yep
1 / 5 (7) May 25, 2013
Well Alfie, lets see... In my limited time circling the sun, this would not be the first time that my ignorant belief's would prove to be valid over all the credentialed professional scientists and consortiums. So keep your dogmas, and I will choose another path. The passage of time will most likely vindicate one of us. As far as moronic goes that was a retort on my behalf over a previous post. Just so you know, only a fool believes himself not one. And for you others, as far as cranks go, we would still be in the dark ages if not for them.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) May 25, 2013
Re: "Lets see. On the one side we have an interdisciplinary group of professionals, collaborating. People whose credentials and CVs offer some indication of worthiness. On the other, we have an anonymous individual, hiding behind a pseudonym, who tells us that outside himself much of what the rest of the world knows about this subject is wrong."

You could not be more clear that you are not actually engaging the critique on the technical grounds and history which is being presented.

Re: "The down-votes are just an indication for any passing laymen that the particular post is psuedo-science from a crank."

We are literally redefining what it means to be a "crank" today when stark warnings by Nobel laureates who create entire disciplines of study (MHD) are completely ignored.

The pseudoscience-crank worldview has no strategy for dealing with mistakes in mainstream theory. It's half of a philosophy presented as though nothing is missing.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) May 25, 2013
Hannes Alfven on turbulence in cosmic plasmas, from Electric Current Model of Magnetosphere, May 1979 ...

"The sloppy use of the term "turbulent" has caused and is causing much confusion. A spacecraft moving through a plasma often registers rapid fluctuations, but sometimes these are due to the filamentary structure of the plasma, sometimes due to waves of different kinds. However, there is no certain indication that anywhere in space there is very much turbulence in the proper sense of this word. This is very important, among other things because real turbulence produces mixing and there is no certain evidence for a high degree of mixing in space plasmas."

I think we can assume that this is not taught to astrophysical PhD's. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense why "mainstreamers" would tend to lash out at the people who are passing along the information, instead of the institutions which have apparently failed to present them the whole story.
Fleetfoot
4.8 / 5 (4) May 25, 2013
We are literally redefining what it means to be a "crank" today when stark warnings by Nobel laureates who create entire disciplines of study (MHD) are completely ignored.


If you were on the net about a decade ago, you would know of an emeritus professor who became convinced that mass was equivalent to time. Sadly Alzheimer's is no respecter of genius.

On a simpler level, Einstein was never convinced by QM and I'm sure you can add your own examples. Alfven's early work was groundbreaking but he too got locked into claims that were refuted by subsequent work.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) May 25, 2013
Alfven's early work was groundbreaking but he too got locked into claims that were refuted by subsequent work.


Maybe you'd like to point to something, from what I've found Alfven is vindicated regularly by observation and data.
HannesAlfven
1.3 / 5 (12) May 25, 2013
Re: "Alfven's early work was groundbreaking but he too got locked into claims that were refuted by subsequent work."

Students have not been adequately informed of Alfven's claims and warnings to the astrophysical community, to begin with. Magnetic reconnection, for example, is typically presented within press releases and research as a physical observation rather than a construct or an inference which has been the subject of criticisms.

A public which is growing increasingly aware of the role of plasmas in the universe has good reason to be skeptical of the claim that Alfven's work CANNOT be fit to the data. What the Thunderbolts group has been wildly successful at demonstrating is that the decision to not elaborate the electrodynamic plasma universe paradigm was a choice that was made without any concern for hedging the all-in bet on a mechanistic universe.

It's plain to see that the ad hoc modeling approach is only applied to the dominant paradigm.
HannesAlfven
1.3 / 5 (12) May 25, 2013
Some of us have observed what passes for business-as-usual within the astrophysical community. It's hard to call this an unbiased approach. We've watched the wild behavior of moderators on the BAUT Forum, slashing and burning thread logs which they don't like and oftentimes ridiculing the IEEE (!). We've seen attempts to just explain what the Electric Universe is on wikipedia censored every time. We've seen advocates for the plasma universe claims pursued by "debunkers" from one forum to the next. Numerous television documentaries were canceled once the "experts" were consulted.

Within that context, when the WMAP team questions Gerrit Verschuur's statistics that suggest that WMAP hotspots correlate with knots within the interstellar filaments, or when Halton Arp's statistics are questioned, the criticism is interpreted within the larger context of the pattern of behavior.

Most EU critics cannot even explain the basics of what are being claimed.
HannesAlfven
1.4 / 5 (11) May 25, 2013
What astrophysicists seem to have succeeded in doing is force-feeding the public a steady diet of intellectual junk food on channels like the "History" Channel. Rather than deeply engaging the public on the various controversies which permeate many of the disciplines of science, the trend has been to dress up the dominant paradigms in expensive graphics, while ignoring all competing ideas which might force a devastating re-write in theory. All ideas are judged basically on their differentness to the dominant ideas.

Feigning ignorance proves to be an excellent strategy because it creates a pliable public. But, perhaps the largest factor weighing in on these debates has been the teaching of science such that students are invited to rote-memorize "the answers". Even as large public school experiments show the harm that this can do to critical & creative thinking, the universities are actively resisting the implementation of metric standards to gauge student comprehension.
Fleetfoot
4.2 / 5 (5) May 26, 2013
We've watched the wild behavior of moderators on the BAUT Forum, slashing and burning thread logs which they don't like and oftentimes ridiculing the IEEE (!).


BAUT does a good job exposing the pseudo-science of EU wherever it shows up, perhaps the IEEE should avoid articles out of its area of expertise. Of course the cranks get upset about that.

We've seen attempts to just explain what the Electric Universe is on wikipedia censored every time.


Wikipedia has standards that it tries to maintain though the open nature makes that difficult. The EU people constantly try to turn it into a platform for propaganda instead of keeping it as a factual description of the claims.

when Halton Arp's statistics are questioned,


Arp's original claim of quantized redshift was shown to be untrue long ago but may have been an early hint of BAO structure. If he hadn't misinterpreted it because he wanted to force it into a Tired Light model, he might have made the real connection.
HannesAlfven
1.4 / 5 (11) May 26, 2013
Okay, how about a letter writing campaign designed to halt the creation of EU models on spare government supercomputer cycles? At what point does this become more politics than science for you?

Re: "perhaps the IEEE should avoid articles out of its area of expertise"

This reminds me a lot of the toddler's game where they must place the circle brick into the circle hole. It probably should not surprise us that an advocate for a set of models which struggles to point to a philosophy to support those models would fail to ask the big picture questions, such as:

If nobody is permitted to question the astrophysical models other than the astrophysicists themselves, then doesn't this lend god-like status to astrophysicists? What have they done to earn such a uniquely trusted position within our society?
HannesAlfven
1.4 / 5 (11) May 26, 2013
Re: "The EU people constantly try to turn it into a platform for propaganda instead of keeping it as a factual description of the claims."

Again, there seems to be little philosophical thought put into this. To what extent can we trust peoples' opinions of the EU claims given all of the effort which goes into preventing people from learning what the claims are?

If your worldview is that the biggest threat to science is pseudoscience, then aren't you simply ignoring the threat of mistakes within the models?

Re: "Arp's original claim of quantized redshift was shown to be untrue long ago"

This says nothing about the numerous "chance" observations of connecting filaments between objects of dramatically different redshifts.

Is it that this is not even a controversy, or is it that we've simply trained our physics PhD's to not SEE the controversy? Jeff Schmidt has written a book called Disciplined Minds which clearly explains why the latter is the case ...
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) May 26, 2013
From http://www.julesn...6489.htm

"MR: When you first thought of writing this book, you were in graduate school, right?

JS: Yes, that's right. I got interested in the topic when I was going to professional training myself, getting a PhD in physics at the University of California, Irvine. It seemed like the best of my fellow graduate students were either dropping out or being kicked out. And by 'best,' those were the most concerned about other people and seemed less self-centered, less narrowly-focused, most friendly people...they seemed to be handicapped in the competition. They seemed to be at a disadvantage not only because their attention was divided, but because their concerns about big picture issues like justice and the social role of the profession and so on, caused them to stop and think and question, whereas their unquestioning gung-ho classmates just plowed right through with nothing to hold them back ..."
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) May 26, 2013
" ... As I mentioned, there's about a 50% drop-out rate for students entering University programs in all fields; and what I found was that this weeding out is not politically neutral. To put it bluntly, the programs favor ass-kissers ..."

The book goes into extraordinary detail on a theory for how rote memorization is used as a tool for transforming students who have a natural curiosity for the mysteries of nature into tools for universities and corporations who need access to a subordinate labor force which will not threaten these hierarchical structures.

What's noteworthy is that -- completely independently -- the Physics Education Research community has come to the same exact conclusion, based upon very large public school experiments using force concept inventory testing, that rote memorization can be harmful to meaningful learning. Without the strong conceptual foundation which results from meaningful learning, students lack an ability to question the knowledge they learn.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (4) May 26, 2013
At what point does this become more politics than science for you?


When people like you try to use the "equal rights" argument to justify wasting scarce resources on ideas that are known to be wrong.

If nobody is permitted to question the astrophysical models other than the astrophysicists themselves, ..


.. aren't you simply ignoring the threat of mistakes within the models?


For the last half of last century, it was assumed that the Cosmological Constant was "Einstein's Biggest Blunder" and every textbook mentioned it then promptly set it to zero. That was a mistake, but the instruments weren't available to make the measurements needed to find it. While there were earlier hints, it was Perlmutter's paper based on high red-shift supernovae that changed all that. Once hard evidence comes in, the model is readily changed. Perlmutter et al won the Nobel for that so there is a strong incentive to perform such tests, your criticism is contrary to reality.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (5) May 26, 2013
"Arp's original claim of quantized redshift was shown to be untrue long ago"


This says nothing about the numerous "chance" observations of connecting filaments between objects of dramatically different redshifts.


Science is quantitative so if you want to make a claim that there are more "chance alignments" than would be expected from a statistical analysis, do the analysis, get it peer reviewed and publish it.

Is it that this is not even a controversy, or is it that we've simply trained our physics PhD's to not SEE the controversy?


Find an example. If it is a "connecting filament", the redshift of the stars along the filament should progressively transition from one galaxy's value to the other. If it is an alignment of a tidal stream in widely separated galaxies, there should be some at each value but a clear gap between the two groups. There is no "controversy", there is an opportunity for you to test the claim scientifically and either prove or refute it.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) May 26, 2013
Re: "... When people like you try to use the "equal rights" argument to justify wasting scarce resources on ideas that are known to be wrong."

I'm simply trying to adopt a "scientific attitude" about the information which I'm exposed to. From http://www.direct.../doc.pdf

"The current set of scientific attitudes of objectivity, open-mindedness, unbiassedness, curiosity, suspended judgement, critical mindedness, and rationality has evolved from a systematic identification of scientific norms and values ... Is it not possible that these scientific attitudes have been popularised and then reified as a set of ideal attitudes but in reality is not often found in actual scientific practices? The following studies raise serious doubts about the scientists' adherence to institutional imperatives ..."

You might want to check it out.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) May 26, 2013
Re: "There is no "controversy", there is an opportunity for you to test the claim scientifically and either prove or refute it."

But, you already told us that outsiders are not qualified to comment on the work of astrophysicists. So, in order to be heard, I would have to enter into an astrophysics PhD program, where I would be told to memorize the "facts".

Keep in mind that when the Deep Impact impactor struck the Tempel 1 comet, all of the mainstream theorists were expecting a single flash. Within the electrical view, there was so much certainty that there would be two completely separate observable flashes that Wal Thornhill pointed this out prior to the impact. Since the object's trajectory involved a highly elliptical orbit, it would by necessity exhibit a charge differential with the impactor which would necessitate a charge neutralization. This naturally follows from EU theory.

Many non-technical reasons were proposed for why we must ignore that successful prediction.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) May 26, 2013
From http://www.thunde...ning.htm

" Electrical theorist Wallace Thornhill predicted two blasts. From the standard viewpoint that is an absurd prediction when considering an impactor being hit by a body at 23,000 miles per hour in "empty" space. But this is what makes such predictions so valuable. And here is what happened in the words of NASA investigator Peter Schultz, describing the event recorded from the spacecraft:

"What you see is something really surprising. First, there is a small flash, then there's a delay, then there's a big flash and the whole thing breaks loose" ...

They proposed that the impactor moved through a deep layer of soft material before hitting hard material. But the delay would require the impactor to have penetrated something like a mile beneath the surface before causing the "serious" impact event. "

You can't make this stuff up. A post-hoc explanation that is algebraically dysfunctional is preferred over prediction.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (10) May 26, 2013
It's really quite extraordinary that we were able to hit a bullet with a bullet. The mission managers have undeniable bragging rights for their technical accomplishment. But, the event also goes to show how impossible it has become to create doubt amongst people who are convinced they have the truth cornered.

Here was an event which they could not explain themselves, but which was demanded by an alternative, electrodynamic paradigm. Nobody blinked.

The expectation that science can continue to function properly when so much effort is put into creating ignorance of competing claims is really quite idealistic. In any power struggle which lacks checks and balances, you will tend to see signs of authoritarianism emerge. It's not a conspiracy. It's not even an anomaly.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) May 27, 2013
Re: "There is no "controversy", there is an opportunity for you to test the claim scientifically and either prove or refute it."


But, you already told us that outsiders are not qualified to comment on the work of astrophysicists.


No, YOU claimed that, I know otherwise from personal experience.

The point is that to do it properly, you make those measurements and publish them, simply noting that they may be "controversial". Others can then repeat the test, science requires that such results are repeatable, and then you have established a new observation that must be dealt with by ANY model.

There are going to be some cases where the connections are real and due to tidal streams from near misses within clusters. The "finger of god" effect will exaggerate the apparent separation but even that can only produce a limited difference in redshift.

These claims have been around for decades, why has the EU community never done the obvious test? Because they know it fails.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (1) May 27, 2013
Since the object's trajectory involved a highly elliptical orbit, it would by necessity exhibit a charge differential with the impactor which would necessitate a charge neutralization. This naturally follows from EU theory.


Show me the calculation of that prediction please.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) May 27, 2013
The mission managers have undeniable bragging rights for their technical accomplishment.


And for the theories they used to calculate that trajectory. You claim success for your own prediction but ignore those of others.

Here was an event which they could not explain themselves, but which was demanded by an alternative, electrodynamic paradigm.


Impacts are complex and the aim was to investigate something which is almost impossible to predict in detail. Your problem is that you are building a case based solely on "confirmation bias", you look only for results that match what you want and ignore the overwhelming majority that says you are wrong. Finding evidence which matches your predictions only shows your theory is not falsified by that specific test. If you want to change anything, the only way is to find repeatable observations that clearly conflict with the current model. The redshift test mentioned previously would be an example but you won't do it.
Neinsense99
2.6 / 5 (10) May 27, 2013
More Electric Boogaluniverse pseudoscience from cantdrive/think/self-reflect/admit-I-was-fooled.