PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 94/2003 - 3 November 2003
IRON-RICH SUN MAY LIE AT THE CORE OF SOLAR FLARES
-------------------------------------------------


The spate of solar storms that have hit Earth in recent days may be
caused by the sun's iron-rich interior, says a University of Missouri-Rolla
researcher who theorizes that the sun's core is made of iron rather than
hydrogen. Dr. Oliver Manuel, a professor of nuclear chemistry, believes that
iron, not hydrogen, is the sun's most abundant element. In a paper accepted for
publication in the Journal of Fusion Energy, Manuel asserts that the "standard
solar model" -- which assumes that the sun's core is made of hydrogen -- has
led to misunderstandings of how such solar flares occur, as well as inaccurate
views on the nature of global climate change.
     --University of Missouri-Rolla, 31 October 2003


German scientists who have created a 1,000-year- record of sunspots
said on Wednesday they discovered the Sun has been in a frenzy since 1940
and this may be a factor in global warming. The research, based on the
quantities of the isotope beryllium 10 found in ice bores from Greenland
and the Antarctic, challenges the belief that carbon dioxide from cars
and coal fires and other greenhouse gases are the only cause of recent
warmer climates.
    --Dawn, 31 October 2003



(1) IRON-RICH SUN MAY LIE AT THE CORE OF SOLAR FLARES
    University of Missouri-Rolla

(2) SUN IS IN FRENZY SINCE 1940
    Dawn, 31 October 2003

(3) SOLAR ERUPTION LIKELY CAUSE OF POWER OUTRAGE IN SWEDEN
    Space Daily, 31 October 2003

(4) HERE COMES THE SUN - AGAIN
    Space Weather News for Nov. 2, 2003

(5) DEBATE HEATS UP ON ROLE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN HUMAN EVOLUTION
    Space Daily, 30 October 2003

(6) SCIENTISTS: THINK ABOUT DEFENDING EARTH FROM ASTEROIDS
    The State, 31 October 2003

(7) AND FINALLY: DOOMWATCH: TIME TO PUT YOUR TIN-FOIL HAT ON?
    The Scotsman, 28 October 2003

=================
(1) IRON-RICH SUN MAY LIE AT THE CORE OF SOLAR FLARES

Andrew Careaga
University of Missouri-Rolla
Office of Public Relations

Contact:  Andrew Careaga
Phone:  573-341-4328
Email: acareaga@umr.edu

31 October 2003

IRON-RICH SUN MAY LIE AT THE CORE OF SOLAR FLARES

ROLLA, Mo. -- The spate of solar storms that have hit Earth in recent days may be caused by the sun's iron-rich interior, says a University of Missouri-Rolla researcher who theorizes that the sun's core is made of iron rather than hydrogen.

Dr. Oliver Manuel, a professor of nuclear chemistry, believes that iron, not hydrogen, is the sun's most abundant element. In a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Fusion Energy, Manuel asserts that the "standard solar model" -- which assumes that the sun's core is made of hydrogen -- has led to misunderstandings of how such solar flares occur, as well as inaccurate views on the nature of global climate change.

Recent solar flares erupting on the sun's surface have unleashed powerful geomagnetic storms -- gigantic clouds of highly charged particles that pose a threat to electric utilities, high-frequency radio communications, satellite navigation systems and television broadcasts. Continued turbulence on the sun will remain a concern for the coming days, according to space forecasters.

Manuel claims that hydrogen fusion creates some of the sun's heat, as hydrogen -- the lightest of all elements -- moves to the sun's surface. But most of the heat comes from the core of an exploded supernova that continues to generate energy within the iron-rich interior of the sun, Manuel says.

"We think that the solar system came from a single star, and the sun formed on a collapsed supernova core," Manuel explains. "The inner planets are made mostly of matter produced in the inner part of that star, and the outer planets of material that formed out of the outer layers of that star."

Manuel's paper, "Superfluidity in the Solar Interior: Implications for Solar Eruptions and Climate," suggests that the conventional view of how magnetic fields in the sun's interior -- the cause of solar flares and storms -- are formed is flawed. "The prevailing opinion in the solar physics community is that solar dynamos generate the sun's magnetic fields by plasma flows in the outer part of the sun. ... The model of a hydrogen-filled sun offers few other options," Manuel says.

Manuel offers another explanation, based on his assertion that the solar system was born catastrophically out of a supernova -- a theory that goes against the widely-held belief among astrophysicists that the sun and planets were formed 4.5 billion years ago in a relatively ambiguous cloud of interstellar dust. In his latest paper, Manuel posits that the changing fields are caused either by the magnetic field of the rotating neutron star at the core of the sun itself or by a reaction that converts the iron surrounding the neutron star into a superconductor. This reaction is called Bose-Einstein condensation.

While Manuel's theory is seen as highly controversial by many in the scientific community, other researchers have confirmed that distant solar systems orbit stars that are rich in iron and other metals. Last summer, astronomer Debra Fischer at the University of California, Berkeley, presented her findings of a study of more than 750 stars at the International Astronomical Union meeting in Sydney, Australia. Fischer and her team determined that 20 percent of metal-rich stars have planets orbiting them.

Manuel believes Fischer's research helps to confirm his 40-year effort to change the way people think about the solar system's origins. He thinks a supernova rocked our area of the Milky Way galaxy some five billion years ago, giving birth to all the heavenly bodies that populate the solar system.

Analyses of meteorites reveal that all primordial helium is accompanied by "strange xenon," he says, adding that both helium and strange xenon came from the outer layer of the supernova that created the solar system. Helium and strange xenon are also seen together in Jupiter.

Back in 1975, Manuel and another UMR researcher, Dr. Dwarka Das Sabu, first proposed that the solar system formed from the debris of a spinning star that exploded as a supernova. They based their claim on studies of meteorites and moon samples which showed traces of strange xenon. Data from NASA's Galileo probe of Jupiter's helium-rich atmosphere in 1996 reveals traces of strange xenon gases -- solid evidence against the conventional model of the solar system's creation, Manuel says.

Manuel first began to develop the iron-rich sun theory in 1972. That year, Manual and his colleagues reported in the British journal Nature that the xenon found in primitive meteorites was a mixture of strange and normal xenon (Nature 240, 99-101). The strange xenon is enriched in isotopes that are made when a supernova explodes, the researchers reported, and could not be produced within meteorites.

Three years later, Manuel and Sabu found that all of the primordial helium in meteorites is trapped in the same sites that trapped strange xenon. Based on these findings, they concluded that the solar system formed directly from the debris of a single supernova, and the sun formed on the supernova's collapsed core. Giant planets like Jupiter grew from material in the outer part of the supernova, while Earth and the inner planets formed out of material form the supernova's interior. This is why the outer planets consist mostly of hydrogen, helium and other light elements, and the inner planets are made of heavier elements like iron, sulfur and silicon, Manuel says.

Strange xenon came from the helium-rich outer layers of the supernova, while normal xenon came from its interior. There was no helium in the interior because nuclear fusion reactions there changed the helium into the heavier elements, Manuel says.

Andrew Careaga || Office of Public Relations
University of Missouri-Rolla
Home of the 2003 National Champion Solar Car Team!
acareaga@umr.edu || http://news.umr.edu || http://research.umr.edu
Phone: (573) 341-4328
Fax: (573) 341-6157

===========
(2) SUN IS IN FRENZY SINCE 1940

Dawn, 31 October 2003
http://www.dawn.com/2003/10/31/int17.htm

HAMBURG: German scientists who have created a 1,000-year- record of sunspots said on Wednesday they discovered the Sun has been in a frenzy since 1940 and this may be a factor in global warming.

The research, based on the quantities of the isotope beryllium 10 found in ice bores from Greenland and the Antarctic, challenges the belief that carbon dioxide from cars and coal fires and other greenhouse gases are the only cause of recent warmer climates.

The team from the Max Planck Institute for Aeronomy in Germany and Finland's Oulu University discovered a past phase of elevated sunspot activity between 1100 and 1250, though there were far fewer sunspots then than today.

The earth was very warm at that time and Vikings were recorded as farming on Greenland.

A gas cloud from one of the flares ever seen on the Sun reached the Earth this week causing a magnetic storm that disrupted radio and radar systems, forcing safety authorities to space out airline traffic. More disruption are expected.

The findings, which are to appear in the December issue of Physical Review Letters, chart sunspots back to the year 850. Sunspots were first observed in the early 17th century after the discovery of the telescope.

Astronomers have made on-again-off-again notes ever since of the spots, where the Sun's surface appears darker because magnetic fields disrupt the outflow of energy from the star's interior. Most of the surface is 5,800 degrees Celsius, but a spot is 1,500 degrees colder.

The 11-year cycle of sunspots from strong to weak to strong again is well known to anyone using shortwave radio, but the long-term fluctuation was not plain. The team said the surge of spots and gas flares since 1940 was the greatest in the entire period checked. The activity was 2.5 times the long-term average. Solar activity matched average temperatures on the Earth, they added.

Radioactive beryllium 10 used for the readings comes from cosmic rays bombarding nitrogen and oxygen in the air. The element falls to the ground with rain and snow.Layers are preserved in the ice caps. Sunspots block cosmic rays from reaching the Earth, meaning less beryllium and increased ultraviolet radiation.

The statement noted a much-discussed Danish hypothesis suggesting cosmic radiation helps tiny particles to form in air, increasing cloud formation. Sunspots would thus mean fewer clouds. -DPA

Copyright 2003, dpa

==========
(3) SOLAR ERUPTION LIKELY CAUSE OF POWER OUTRAGE IN SWEDEN

Space Daily, 31 October 2003
http://www.spacedaily.com/2003/031031111934.of7v5sft.html

 
MALMOE, Sweden (AFP) Oct 31, 2003

An hour-long power outage that affected 20,000 homes in Sweden's southern city of Malmoe on Thursday was probably caused by a powerful geomagnetic storm that hit the Earth, power company Sydkraft said.

"Since everything worked properly once power was restored, and since we have not had any further disruptions, a geomagnetic disruption is the likeliest explanation," Sydkraft operations engineer Sven-Aake Andersson told Swedish news agency TT on Friday.

A second powerful solar flare in just three days hit the Earth on Thursday, as the planet was recovering from a similar, earlier geomagnetic storm that snarled telecommunications and sparked a burst of the Northern Lights.

The storms also created some interference with the North American power grid.

A solar flare is a magnetic storm on the sun that appears as a very bright spot, and sends gas from the sun's surface into space.

The solar eruption will continue to affect the Earth's magnetic field for the next two weeks, experts say.

The first storm erupted from the surface of the sun around 1100 GMT Tuesday, firing a giant cloud of charged ions straight towards the Earth. It was the third most powerful solar eruption ever observed.

The second eruption was observed Wednesday at 2048 GMT, and the geomagnetic storm it created hit the Earth around 1500 GMT Thursday, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center.

NOAA space weather officials classified the geomagnetic storm as a G-5 or "extreme" on a scale that runs 1 to 5. In terms of frequency, this level of storm occurs only once, if at all, during the 11-year solar activity cycle, officials said.

All rights reserved. 2003 Agence France-Presse.

=========
(4) HERE COMES THE SUN - AGAIN

Space Weather News for Nov. 2, 2003
http://spaceweather.com

Another remarkable solar flare has erupted from giant sunspot 486--an
X8-class blast at 1725 UT on Nov. 2nd. Because the sunspot is nearing the
sun's western limb, this explosion was not aimed squarely at Earth. Even
so, a coronal mass ejection (CME) is heading our way. Auroras could appear
on Nov. 3rd or 4th when the fast-moving cloud delivers a glancing blow to
Earth's magnetic field. Visit spaceweather.com for more information and
images.

============
(5) DEBATE HEATS UP ON ROLE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN HUMAN EVOLUTION

Space Daily, 30 October 2003
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/human-03b.html

Boulder - Oct 29, 2003
Scientists at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Seattle next week are taking a comprehensive new look at drivers of human evolution. It now appears that climate variability during the Plio-Pleistocene (approximately 6 million years in duration) played a hugely important role.

Astronomically controlled climate forcing on scales ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 years down to El Ninos (5-7 years) made a highly unpredictable environment in which generalists with intelligence, language, and creativity were best able to adapt.

Traditional studies of human evolution have focused largely on finding and dating hominid fossils. Today the investigation is rapidly expanding with advances in DNA research and understanding of global climate change. The combination of archeological, geologic, and paleoclimatic evidence allows scientists to explore such tantalizing questions as:

What were the drivers that may have nudged hominids toward bi-pedalism?

Why did only one species ultimately succeed at it?

How might global climate change have influenced brain development, development of tools, and the exodus from Africa?

How did glacial periods in Europe, Asia, and North America impact humans?

"The answers to these questions will not all come from the bones, but from what was taking place in the environment in which they were found," says Gail Ashley, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Rutgers University.

Ashley and Craig Feibel of Rutgers have assembled an interdisciplinary group of distinguished scientists physical anthropologists, archaeologists, geologists, and paleoclimatologists for a Pardee Keynote Symposia, The Paleoenvironmental and Paleoclimatic Framework of Human Evolution. The symposium takes place at GSA on Monday, Nov. 3.

- William Ruddiman, celebrated author of Earth's Climate: Past and Future, provides an overview of climate change over the last several million years, helping to separate fact from fiction.

- Bernard Wood, a world-renowned physical anthropologist, discusses the hominin family "Tree of Life" and the challenges of working with the meager fossil record of human evolution spanning the last 7 million years.

- Thure Cerling is a pioneer in using isotope records of bones and teeth. With co-authors Meave Leakey and John Harris he provides a comprehensive look at the impact of climate change on the biological record from one of richest fossil sites in the world (Lake Tukana, Kenya).

- Jonathan Wynn unravels some of the paleoclimate puzzles from fossil soils at key sites in the "Cradle of Mankind" in East Africa. The soils provide clear documentation of extremely arid events. Prolonged droughts may have been a factor in triggering migrations of hominins out of Africa.

- Julia Lee-Thorpe, a trail blazing geochemist, has taken a more personal approach to human evolution by examining hominin nutrition through analyses of tooth enamel. Diet is a direct record of available food resources and an indirect record of the environment in which the individual lived.

- Andrew Hill, a globally recognized expert on the paleontological record in East Africa, reports on the latest findings from the superb paleoenvironmental record of the Tugen Hills, Kenya (site of the discovery of the 6 million-year-old "Millennium Man").

- Gail Ashley speculates on the critical role of the availability of water in affecting human evolution, based on studies from Olduvai Gorge and other fossil localities. Dramatic fluctuations in climate (wet to dry) in East Africa may have been an important factor in affecting natural selection of species able to cope through arid periods.

- David Lordkipanidze and Reid Ferring tell an exciting chapter on the "Out-of-Africa" story from Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia. The 1.8 million-year-old hominin remains are the first discoveries outside Africa to show clear affinities to early African Homo.

- Rick Potts, author of the provocative book Humanity's Descent: The Consequences of Ecological Instability, contributes important new findings from China revealing the successful adaption of some hominin groups 400,000 years ago to climatic fluctuations and drastic environmental change.

- James Dixon, a recognized authority on peopling of the Americas, provides the most recent chapter in the record of humans. Continental ice sheets, sea level changes and the presence of the Bering land bridge effectively controlled immigration from Asia to the New World.

- Craig Feibel provides perspective on the physical environmental constraints in which human evolution took place. He examines the role of geologic factors such as plate tectonics, sea level change, and climate fluctuations in affecting selective pressure on hominins and thereby impacting how and where humans evolved

===========
(6) SCIENTISTS: THINK ABOUT DEFENDING EARTH FROM ASTEROIDS

The State, 31 October 2003
http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/nation/7140212.htm

By PETER MUCHA
Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA - So far, thank heavens, no doomsday-size asteroid or comet has been found heading straight for us. The bad news, however, is that they don't make bulletproof vests for planets.

Since the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth are remote but real, scientists and engineers are exploring all sorts of ideas for protecting the planet.

The "Armageddon" strategy - sending up Bruce Willis with a nuke - is likely to fail or even backfire, scientists say.

An asteroid or comet tops the list of suspects for the sudden extinction of half of all species about 200 million years ago, and another may have exterminated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Congress has mandated that NASA find 90 percent of one-kilometer Near-Earth Objects by 2008. So far, 672 have been detected, and none is a sure threat for roughly the rest of the century.

An asteroid that size doesn't sound so big, but when hitting Earth at 25,000 to 50,000 miles per hour, the heat, smoke and debris could alter the climate and destroy crops, resulting in hundreds of millions of deaths.

The odds of such an event occurring within the next year are about 1 in 600,000, according to a recent MIT study - yet that's far more likely your next airline flight crashing or your next lottery ticket hitting a multistate lottery.

These aren't the only rocky horrors. There may be a half-million or more smaller, harder-to-detect NEOs capable of devastating a city or region.

Scientists say the time has come to get serious about defending the planet.

Blasting an asteroid with nuclear missiles could prove ineffective, even disastrous. Many asteroids are agglomerations of rubble and could absorb the blast, computer simulations suggest. Besides, warns Clark Chapman of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., "you'd break up the body uncontrollably, with potentially disastrous results" - like multiple fragments pounding the Earth.

Deflection - changing an asteroid's path - is the best bet, especially if the impact is years away. Ideas include: Use a giant airbag (chemically inflated in space) pushed by a rocket; position a giant magnifying glass or curved mirror to focus sunlight and scorch rock into blasts of gas; land a digging machine that creates thrust by ejecting material into space; or merely change the object's color - paint it or cover it with dirt - to alter how it absorbs and reflects the sun's heat.

Two comprehensive proposals come from groups of experts devoting special attention to the problem.

Researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center, led by Mazarek, have proposed a space-based laser system. This could vaporize parts of an asteroid's surface to force it to move. If stationed in space - say on the moon - this laser system could stand ready to alter an asteroid's course in a few months. Other nudging approaches could require many months or even years. Powerful-enough lasers, however, have not yet been developed, so, even if such a project won approval and funding, it might take two or more decades to complete.

The other proposal, to develop a kind of space tugboat, was put forth by the B612 Foundation, an independent anti-asteroid group headed by ex-astronaut Rusty Schweickart and named after the asteroid address in "The Little Prince." This space-going vessel would anchor itself to an asteroid, get its spin under control, and slowly push it off-course. The group wants NASA to take up its proposal and test a system by 2015.

How about fighting fire with fire - deflect a smaller, more cooperative asteroid to slam the would-be assassin aside? This idea "has great appeal - free kinetic energy!" said Erik Asphaug, a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz whose calculations helped cast doubt on using nuclear weapons.

Expressing skepticism is Joseph Spitale, the scientist at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, who proposed the coat of paint idea. "It's probably very difficult to modify the orbit of an asteroid with the precision required to make it hit anything."

The more ideas the better, says Jonathan W. Campbell, a researcher at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He believes a combination of options will be needed.

Getting funding even for development and testing will be a challenge, said Maranek. "We need to practice moving comets and asteroids so we can be ready to divert an object that is a hazard. However, I am afraid that the frequency of this type of natural disaster makes it extremely difficult to justify developing a planetary defense system in our short-sighted, political-term-timeframe-focused society."

Copyright 2003, The State

============
(7) AND FINALLY: DOOMWATCH: TIME TO PUT YOUR TIN-FOIL HAT ON?

The Scotsman, 28 October 2003
http://www.news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=1191212003

Ben Judge

Doomwatch is an occasional series chronicling media coverage of the myriad impending disasters that will wipe out life on earth as we know it. This week the 'Perfect Space Storm' is heading our way. Time to take cover.

Apparently, we are having a bit of weather. And not just any weather - space weather. A magnetic storm the size of Jupiter is whirling around the surface of the sun, blooting out masses of x-rays and causing what is known as a 'coronal mass ejection'.

Crikey.

Time to panic, then, with headlines such as "Solar storm could spark catastrophe" and "Sun's gas explosions could hit Earth."

The last big storm, (the 'perfect space storm') occurred in 1859 and blew out those new-fangled telegraph wires all over the place. Given the reliance we now place on computers and all things electrical, could we be heading back to the Victorian era as all our precious 1s and 0s get magnetised into oblivion?

Well, probably not. Not just yet, anyway.

The "explosions" about to hit earth won't be quite as spectacular as they sound. Yes, the Northern Lights are going south for a holiday, but unless you're a pigeon fancier, short-wave radio enthusiast or an astronaut, you'll probably remain unaffected, and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Obviously, there will be some effects on us. Several billion tons of superheated gas is certainly heading our way. Radio communications will be interfered with, but you'll still be able to listen to your favourite FM DJ in peace. Ground to air, ship to shore, shortwave radio - that sort of thing - will experience distuption. Satellites may slow down as the atmosphere expands, but all they need is a little bit of thrust and they're back up where they belong. Mountaineers using GPS may get a little lost.

It is possible you could get a nasty dose of radiation, which may increase your chances of getting cancer. Travelling in a commercial aircraft at high latitudes, you could receive a dose of x-rays equivalent to 100 chest x-rays. Space walking astronauts, however, are at greatest risk but down here on the ground, the atmosphere generally does a pretty good job of shielding us from space nasties.

AC power lines can get a big unpleasant burst of Direct Current which could knock out electricity. But with a little notice, this can be minimised.

However, if you're a homing pigeon, (or whale or dolphin), watch out - you'll probably get lost. Changes to the earth's magnetic field confuse their navigation systems.

If you're worried about whether it's safe to go outside, you can always get a space weather forecast.

And if you need up to the minute information on any of the 540 rogue (sic) asteroids hurtling towards us, or space stations passing over your house, you can sign up for telephone alerts
from the space weather phone - leaving you plenty of time to put your tin-foil hat on. Designed and constructed primarily as a means of avoiding government mind control, they may be just as effective at deflecting unwanted solar radiation.

Of course, you could always be reasonable, wrap up warm, fill up a flask with Bovril and try and catch the Aurora while it lasts.

Copyright 2003, The Scotsman


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*

CCNet 95/2003 - 3 November 2003
SUN ON FIRE, UNLEASHES THREE MORE MAJOR FLARES
----------------------------------------------

I think the last week will go into the history books as one of the most
dramatic periods of solar activity we have seen in modern time.
    -- Paal Brekke, SOHO Deputy Project Scientist, 3 November 2003 

"We are living with a very unusual sun at the moment."
    --Mike Lockwood, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, 2 November 2003


(1) SUN ON FIRE, UNLEASHES THREE MORE MAJOR FLARES
    Space.com, 3 November 2003

(2) YET ANOTHER X FLARE
    Paal Brekke <pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov>

(3) SUN MORE ACTIVE THAN FOR A MILLENNIUM
    New Scientist, 2 November 2003

(4) HYDROGEN SULFIDE, NOT CARBON DIOXIDE, MAY HAVE CAUSED LARGEST
    MASS EXTINCTION
    Ron Baalke <baalke@zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


=========
(1) SUN ON FIRE, UNLEASHES THREE MORE MAJOR FLARES

Space.com, 3 November 2003
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solar_flares_031103.html

By Robert Roy Britt

The Sun cut loose with three severe flares in less than 24 hours through
Monday morning, bringing to nine the number of major eruptions in less
than two weeks.

Scientists have never witnessed a string of activity like this.

Colorful aurora are expected to grace the skies at high latitudes and
possibly into lower portions of the United States and Europe over the
next two or three nights. Satellites and power grids could once again be
put at risk.

Early Monday, Paal Brekke, deputy project manager of the SOHO
spacecraft, was still digesting the significance of the three additional
outbursts on top of two back-to-back monster flares Oct. 28 and 29. 
 
A space storm can only achieve full potential if its magnetic field is
oriented south, opposite to that of Earth's protective magnetosphere
which always points north.

"I think the last week will go into the history books as one of the most
dramatic periods of solar activity we have seen in modern time," Brekke
told SPACE.com.

None of the latest eruptions was aimed directly at Earth, but glancing
blows are expected.

By the numbers

The flares this week began with an X8 event at 12:25 p.m. ET Sunday. On
this scale, all X-storms are severe, and the number indicates the degree
of severity. An X3 flare erupted at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Reports of the third flare are preliminary. It left the Sun at 4:55 a.m.
Monday and is estimated to be an X4. The trio of outbursts comes within
a week of the unprecedented, back-to-back severe flares rated X17 and
X10.

The first four flares in this long, amazing series date back to Oct. 22
and were ranked less than X2.

All flares of this magnitude are capable of disrupting communications
systems and power grids and harming satellites. Two Japanese satellite
failures and a power outage in Sweden were blamed on the first six
storms.

The new flares were accompanied by coronal mass ejections of charged
particles that take anywhere from 18 hours to two or three days to reach
Earth. These CMEs represent the brunt of the storm unleashed by a flare.

A storm's precise strength, however, cannot be known until about 30
minutes before it strikes and depends on the orientation of its magnetic
field. If that field is southward -- opposite the direction of Earth's
north-pointing magnetic field -- then the potential is greatest for
accelerating the local particles that can then damage satellites and
fuel aurora.

More aurora

Scientists said the eruptions will generate increased auroras, the
colorful Northern and Southern Lights excited by fast-moving particles,
beginning midday Monday and into Tuesday and beyond. The lights shine
because particles excite gas molecules in the atmosphere.

The chance of severe geomagnetic storming -- the root of auroras -- at
middle latitudes is 30 percent Monday and 50 percent Tuesday, according
to NOAA's Space Environment Center. The precise extent of the aurora at
any moment can't be predicted, but it can be seen in real time with
SPACE.com's Aurora Cam.

The fist flare Sunday was generated by Sunspot 486, which was the site
of last week's major storms. The one late Sunday came from Sunspot 488,
which is huge but has not been a major player until now. Monday's flare
also leapt from Sunspot 488.

Both sunspots are about to rotate off the right side of the Sun's face,
so their associated CMEs were not aimed squarely at Earth. However,
these clouds of hot gas expand as they race into space at up to 5
million mph, so at least some effect at Earth is predicted.

Sunspots are dark, cooler regions of the solar surface. They are areas
of pent-up magnetic activity, caps on upwelling matter and energy that
can blow at any moment.

No scientist can recall nine X-class flares ever occurring in a 12-day
period. More major flares are possible this week, forecasters said.

Copyright 2003, Space.com

=============
(2) YET ANOTHER X FLARE

Paal Brekke <pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov>

YET another X flrea bursted from the Sun right now. This is the thirds
X-flare within 18 hours. This was about an X5.

A proton storm is in progress..

http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime-images.html
http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/spaceweather/

Paal

-----
Dr. Paal Brekke,
SOHO Deputy Project Scientist  (European Space Agency - ESA)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,   Email: pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov
Mail Code 682.3, Bld. 26, Room 1,   Tel.:  1-301-286-6983/301 996 9028
(cell)
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA.     Fax:   1-301-286-0264
------------------------------------------------------------------------
SOHO WEB: http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/
PERSONAL WEB: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/localinfo/brekke.html
------------------------------------------------------------------------

=============
(3) SUN MORE ACTIVE THAN FOR A MILLENNIUM

New Scientist, 2 November 2003
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994321
 
The Sun is more active now than it has been for a millennium. The
realisation, which comes from a reconstruction of sunspots stretching
back 1150 years, comes just as the Sun has thrown a tantrum. Over the
last week, giant plumes of have material burst out from our star's
surface and streamed into space, causing geomagnetic storms on Earth.

The dark patches on the surface of the Sun that we call sunspots are a
symptom of fierce magnetic activity inside. Ilya Usoskin, a geophysicist
who worked with colleagues from the University of Oulu in Finland and
the Max Planck Institute for Aeronomy in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, has
found that there have been more sunspots since the 1940s than for the
past 1150 years.
  
Sunspot activity

Sunspot observations stretch back to the early 17th century, when the
telescope was invented. To extend the data farther back in time,
Usoskin's team used a physical model to calculate past sunspot numbers
from levels of a radioactive isotope preserved in ice cores taken from
Greenland and Antarctica.

Global warming

Ice cores provide a record of the concentration of beryllium-10 in the
atmosphere. This is produced when high-energy particles from space
bombard the atmosphere, but when the Sun is active its magnetic field
protects the Earth from these particles and levels of beryllium-10 are
lower.

There was already tantalising evidence that beryllium-10 is scarcer now
than for a very long time, says Mike Lockwood, from the UK's Rutherford
Appleton Laboratory near Oxford.

But he told New Scientist that when he saw the data converted to sunspot
numbers he thought, "why the hell didn't I do this?" It makes the
conclusion very stark, he says. "We are living with a very unusual sun
at the moment."

The findings may stoke the controversy over the contribution of the Sun
to global warming. Usoskin and his team are reluctant to be dragged into
the debate, but their work will probably be seized upon by those who
claim that temperature rises over the past century are the result of
changes in the Sun's output (New Scientist, print edition, 12 April
2003). The link between the Sun's magnetic activity and the Earth's
climate is, however, unclear.

Journal reference: Physical Review Letters (in press)
 
Jenny Hogan

Copyright 2003, New Scientist
===============

(4) HYDROGEN SULFIDE, NOT CARBON DIOXIDE, MAY HAVE CAUSED LARGEST
    MASS EXTINCTION

Ron Baalke <baalke@zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

http://live.psu.edu/story/4549

Hydrogen sulfide, not carbon dioxide, may have caused largest mass
extinction
Penn State
November 3, 2003

Seattle, Wash. -- While most scientists agree that a meteor strike
killed the dinosaurs, the cause of the largest mass extinction in
Earth's history, 251 million years ago, is still unknown, according
to geologists.

"During the end-Permian extinction 95 percent of all species on Earth
became extinct, compared to only 75 percent during the KT when the
dinosaurs disappeared," says Lee R. Kump, professor of geosciences.
"The end-Permian is puzzling. There is no convincing smoking gun,
no compelling evidence of an asteroid impact."

Researchers have shown that the deep oceans were anoxic, lacking oxygen,
in the late Permian and research shows that the continental shelf areas
in the end-Permian were also anoxic. One explanation is that sea level
rose so that the anoxic deep water was covering the shelf. Another
possibility is that the surface ocean and deep ocean mixed, bringing
anoxic waters to the surface.

Decomposition of organisms in the deep ocean could have caused an
overabundance of carbon dioxide, which is lethal to many oceanic
organisms and land-based animals.

"However, we find mass extinction on land to be an unlikely consequence
of carbon dioxide levels of only seven times the preindustrial level,"
Kump told attendees today (Nov. 3) at the annual meeting of the
Geological Society of America in Seattle. "Plants, in general, love
carbon dioxide, so it is difficult to think of carbon dioxide as a good
kill mechanism."

On the other hand, hydrogen sulfide gas, produced in the oceans through
sulfate decomposition by sulfur bacteria, can easily kill both
terrestrial and oceanic plants and animals.

Humans can smell hydrogen sulfide gas, the smell of rotten cabbage, in
the parts per trillion range. In the deeps of the Black Sea today,
hydrogen sulfide exists at about 34 parts per million. This is a toxic
brew in which any aerobic, oxygen-needing, organism would die. For the
Black Sea, the hydrogen sulfide stays in the depths because our rich
oxygen atmosphere mixes in the top layer of water and controls the
diffusion of hydrogen sulfide upwards.

In the end-Permian, as the levels of atmospheric oxygen fell and the
levels of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide rose, the upper levels of
the oceans could have become rich in hydrogen sulfide catastrophically.
This would kill most of the oceanic plants and animals. The hydrogen
sulfide dispersing in the atmosphere would kill most terrestrial life.

Kump and colleagues, Alexander Pavlov, University of Colorado; Michael
Arthur, professor of geosciences, Penn State; Anthony Riccardi, graduate
student, Penn State; and Yashuhiro Kato, University of Tokyo, are
looking
at sediments from the end-Permian found in Japan.

"We are looking for biomarkers, indications of photosynthetic sulfur
bacteria," says Kump. "These photo autotrophic organisms live in places
where there is no oxygen, but still some sunlight. They would have been
in their hay day in the end-Permian." Finding biomarkers of green sulfur
bacteria would provide evidence for hydrogen sulfide as the cause of the
mass extinctions.

So, what of the 5 percent of the species on Earth that survived? Kump
suggests that the mixing of the deep ocean layers and the upper layer
was not uniform and that refugia, places where oxygen still existed,
remained, both in the oceans and on land.

Contact                                 Contact
  Andrea Messer                           Vicki Fong
  aem1@psu.edu                            vfong@psu.edu
  http://live.psu.edu                     http://live.psu.edu
  814-865-9481                            814-865-9481


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