Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

X-Ray Noise From Comets Leads To Space Weather Signal

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the be-a-nice-day-if-it-doesn't-burn-out-the-satellites dept.

Communications 27

sciencehabit writes "Scientists observing the x-ray sky first noticed noise in their signals that was eventually ascribed to x-rays produced when the solar wind interacts with the tails of comets. Once alerted to this phenomenon, researchers then noticed that similar x-rays are generated when solar wind particles strike neutral atoms just above Earth's magnetosphere, the bubble produced by Earth's magnetic field that surrounds the planet and protects it from harmful solar radiation. The emissions, which are easy to detect with x-ray telescopes, could produce a display of the entire magnetosheath, the part of the magnetosphere that is bombarded by incoming solar particles. And that display could enable scientists to generate, in real-time, global, space-weather images, just as high-flying meteorological satellites provide real-time images of weather on Earth. This would be useful because, when sudden bursts of intense radiation from the sun pierce the magnetosphere's protective bubble, they set off events that can fry the delicate electronic equipment aboard orbiting satellites, interfere with or kill telecommunications signals, and even overload electric power grids on the ground."

cancel ×

27 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32659218)

FP!!!!!

Hey liberals. Suck my big black cock. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32659590)

Niggers. Yeah, I said niggers.

Just in time (1)

kharri1073 (1036550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659242)

Just in time for the 2013 solar storms... http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=221828 [tehrantimes.com]

Re:Just in time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32660274)

From your link: “But the end of the world it is not."

Of course not. We all know that happens ONE YEAR EARLIER!

Predicting Weather In Space (3, Funny)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659246)

If predicting weather in space is anything like my local stations ability to successfully "predict" statistical patterns (hint: throws dart at spinning wheel, bam, "Sunny with a chance of rain!"), well, space travelers might as well never forget their x-ray'ne coats and sun screen (pun intended), because it will be anyones guess. /facetious & dry humor

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659356)

If I had $1 for every time the weather forecast was wrong I'd be a rich man...

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659498)

If I had $1 for every time the weather forecast was wrong I'd be a rich man...

Carry umbrellas for sale during clear-sky forecast, jackets for moderately warm forecast, and snow shovels for cloudy but no snow forecast. At 1$ each, on a long enough timeline, you too could own your own oil well in the middle east!

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32680968)

Compared to the information available even 20 years ago, the mathematical models used in meteorology have reduced the "chance" down to an effective science. With the introduction of moisture scanning RADAR, patterns have been so accurately mapped that now meteorologists are generally +/- a degree, within a few atmospheres of humidity...etc. If you really were to monitor your local weather reports and compare them to what ACTUALLY happened you would find that they are correct WELL more often than not,. That rules out guessing.
 
---that's completely letting alone that in the previous 200 years, Almanacs were our best guess at the weather. It seems people post on this board strictly to bitch.

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32659786)

If I had $2 for every $1 you got then I would be an even richer man!

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (1)

Kepesk (1093871) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659946)

Either way, I think spaceweather.com is about to get way more interesting!

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32671844)

And they thought I was mad when I majored in magnetoheliogy.

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32671906)

Er, magnetoheliology.

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659976)

As long as they have that hot looking babe giving the space weather reports, its all good.

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32660882)

Danger, Will Robinson, solar flares will take out all communications. Except they don't. Sure, solar flares ionize the ionosphere, and the 13 year cycle for lows and highs happens about every 13 years. Did you hear about the widespread telecommunications outages 13 years ago and 26 years ago? Neither did anyone else. Having a highly charged ionosphere has little, if any, effect on the microwave frequencies used by satellites. Now, if you were talking about 14 MHz, that'd be a different story, with communications signals able to go much farther than during times of low sunspots.

Re:Predicting Weather In Space (2, Interesting)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 4 years ago | (#32664976)

... solar flares will take out all communications. Except they don't.

I doubt you grasp the ferocity of the Massive solar flare of 1859 [nasa.gov] .

Even more disconcerting, telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when telegraphers disconnected the batteries powering the lines, aurora-induced electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted.

The amount of energy needed to start fires and burn down telegraph wires (I remember that from another article) is massive. Inducing several Amperes of current (enough to run the telegraph) in effectively a straight wire is mind-boggling. That would absolutely disrupt the power grid via induced conductor and ground current surges and saturate the ionosphere as it did in 1921, 1960 [wikipedia.org] , 1972 and 1989 [nasa.gov] . The main problem as I see it is that an energy flux of that magnitude could also induce huge currents inside computer and radio equipment attached to long coax or network cables, destroying those terribly thin CMOS insulation layers in every chip. Unless you've got beastly all-tube rigs, you're toast. Think of it as a natural, global Mostly Type E3 [wikipedia.org] EMP-class event.

As an aside, I remember reading somewhere that the most violent Flares/CME's tend to occur on the downswing of the solar cycle.

Your choice of frequencies leads me to believe you're a Amateur Radio Operator - 73 de k4det.

And now, the weather report for space pirates . . (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659404)

"Arghh, matey! You landlubbers had best not to be taking out to outer space seas now. With those X-rays striking neutral atoms in the magnetosphere, it's a sure sign of bad sailing!"

"Thirty days in space, and not a wench to be seen . . . grease up the monkey!"

Re:And now, the weather report for space pirates . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32659538)

"Thirty days in space, and not a wench to be seen . . . grease up the monkey!"

Reminds me of the 1985 winner of the Bulwer-Lytton bad fiction contest [bulwer-lytton.com] :

The countdown had stalled at T minus 69 seconds when Desiree, the first female ape to go up in space, winked at me slyly and pouted her thick, rubbery lips unmistakably--the first of many such advances during what would prove to be the longest, and most memorable, space voyage of my career.
--Martha Simpson, Glastonbury, Connecticut (1985 Winner)

"one scientist's noise is another's signal" (4, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659504)

The classic case is radio telescope hiss which to turned out to be big bang remnant radiation discovered a half century ago. Scientists use systematic variances in GPS signals to measure the height of the ionosphere and mositure in the atmosphere. Thats a lot cheaper than sending up weather balloons.

Re:"one scientist's noise is another's signal" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32660236)

Scientists use systematic variances in GPS signals to measure the height of the ionosphere and mositure in the atmosphere. Thats a lot cheaper than sending up weather balloons.

Only because the cost of the GPS satellite network didn't come out of their departmental budget. ;)

Im confus (0, Offtopic)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32659722)

When we have weather forecasting, we can see a storm 5 days away from the area it will potentially hit. When we see an uptick in x-rays in the magnetosphere, we see it fractions of a second before it will get to us. Sounds like earthquake prediction. Hopefully, there aren't any Italian researchers on this project.

YOU FAIL IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32660470)

having lost 93% EVERY DAY...LIKE Best. Individuals

Slaps forehead "Of COURSE!" (3, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32660598)

This is one of those "Of course!" moments, where something is obvious after the fact.

Of COURSE the wind of charged particles, containing high-speed electrons, produces X-rays when it encounters enough matter in the vacuum to stop it. One such sudden density increase is just above the magnetopause, where new neutral atoms drift out of the shield into the hard vacuum which is swept clean by the solar wind bombardment - and get hit as the first step of being swept away in turn.

Others:

How do mountains explode? Film of Mount St. Helens going up explained it. (It was taken(by a geologist caught in the eruption and killed by it, who snapped a series of shots and then wrapped his camera in his clothes and backpack.):
  - Gas pressure builds under the mountain as it grows.
  - Eventually a landslide occurs, with one side of the mountain sliding off.
  - This greatly reduces the weight holding down the pressure.
  - The gas blasts its way through the remaining layers above it, pulverizing them and throwing the dust up into the stratosphere.

How do you keep dry cells (which have a caustic goo eating away the zinc can) from leaking and eating the flashlight? After years of research one depressed engineer told his wife what his team were working on and getting nowhere, and she asked "Why don't you seal it in a steel can?". (The patent battle when Union Carbide (Eveready) tried to claim it was obvious - when they'd also worked for years trying unsuccessfully to solve the problem - is the major precedent in patent law showing that obvious AFTER the fact doesn't cut it.)

And one of mine:

Some time before the first Voyager flyby I heard the explanation for the Cassini Division in Saturn's rings. (Orbits there are destabilized by their period's 2-1 resonance with the moon Mimas, so the perturbations accumulate and move 'em out or in a bit.) At the time I thought "Why isn't there a gap or a resonance-stabilized thickening at EVERY location where an orbital period would have a rational-number ratio to that of one or another moon? There are LOTS of ratios of small integers, which should have strong effects, so that should make the rings look like a phonograph record."

Turns out it DOES look like a phonograph record, largely because of that phenomenon. But Earth-based telescopes, blurred by the atmosphere, just didn't have the resolution to show it. DARN I wished I'd published that speculation (BEFORE the flyby). B-)

Re:Slaps forehead "Of COURSE!" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32661076)

your gay

Comet detector? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32661532)

If we start regularly scanning the X-ray sky, might we detect an incoming comet by its faint tail emitting X-rays?

Other useful applications for this? (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32663042)

I wonder what other applications this might bring. Detecting aircraft, satellites, or holes in the ozone?

Ouroboriffic! (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 4 years ago | (#32664342)

Now that we have sensitive high-tech equipment we can detect events that will damage sensitive high-tech equipment so we can save our sensitive high-tech equipment!

It all works out.

Best sound effect ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32666724)

*x-ray noise*

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>