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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Secrets of the Sun for showing us how the
life giving Sun probably works, what we know and what we don't.

Secrets of the Sun

Secrets of the Sun (2012) - 60 minutes
Secrets of the Sun at Amazon.com

It contains 99.9 percent of the matter in our solar system and sheds hot plasma at nearly a million miles an hour. The temperature at its core is a staggering 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. It convulses, it blazes, it sings. You know it as the sun. Scientists know it as one of the most amazing physics laboratories in the universe. Now, with the help of new spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes, scientists are seeing the sun as they never have before, and even re-creating what happens at the very center of the sun in labs here on Earth. Their work will help us understand aspects of the sun that have puzzled scientists for decades. But more critically, it may help us predict and track solar storms that have the power to zap our power grid, shut down telecommunications, and ground global air travel for days, weeks, or even longer. Such storms have happened before - but never in the modern era of satellite communication. Secrets of the Sun reveals a bright new dawn in our understanding of our nearest star - one that might help keep our planet from going dark.

Our sun converts 4.5 million tons of mass every second into pure energy. That's the same as converting 45 of the world's largest aircraft carrier into pure energy every second. The total weight of all fissionable material of all nuclear weapons in the world that would be converted into energy if they were all exploded would be less than 1 ton, one 4.5 millionth of the sun's energy output in 1 second. It takes 10,000 to 170,000 years for all that energy being generated at the center of the sun to work its way out to the sun's surface, and it takes 8 minutes 20 seconds for that energy to reach earth. But only 0.0000001% (one 1 billionth) of the sun's energy ever reaches earth, all the rest is lost in all other directions.

11-22-18 The violent solar storms that threaten Earth
A violent storm on the Sun could cripple communications on Earth and cause huge economic damage, scientists have warned. Why are solar storms such a threat? In 1972, dozens of sea mines off the coast of Vietnam mysteriously exploded. It was recently confirmed the cause was solar storms, which can significantly disrupt the Earth's magnetic field. Today, the effects of a similar event could be much more serious - disrupting the technology we rely on for everything from satellites to power grids. The cost to the UK economy alone of an unexpected event has been estimated at £16bn. There are good reasons why we are vulnerable to events taking place millions of miles from Earth. The Sun is a star, a seething mass of electrified hydrogen. As this fluid moves around, it builds up energy within its complex magnetic field. This magnetic energy is released through intense flashes of light known as solar flares and through vast eruptions of material and magnetic fields known as coronal mass ejections or solar storms. While flares can disrupt radio communication on Earth, solar storms pose the greatest threat. Each storm contains the energy equivalent to 100,000 times the world's entire nuclear arsenal, although this is spread throughout an enormous volume in space. The Sun rotates like a vast spinning firework, launching eruptions into space in all directions. If one of these heads towards our planet, with a magnetic field aligned opposite to the Earth's, the two fields can merge together. As the solar storm washes past, some of the Earth's magnetic field is distorted into a long tail. And when this distorted magnetic field eventually snaps back, it accelerates electrified particles towards the Earth. Here, they strike the upper atmosphere, heating it and causing it to glow in a spectacular display known as the northern and southern lights. But this distortion of the Earth's magnetic field has other, more significant effects. It is thought to have triggered the sea mines back in 1972. The mines were designed to detect small variations in the magnetic field caused by the approach of metal-hulled boats. But their engineers hadn't anticipated that solar activity could have the same effect.

8-13-18 Rock layers show our sun has been in same cycle for 700 million years
Our star gets more and less active in a repeating cycle that lasts 11 years, and ancient rocks suggest it behaved the same way over 700 million years ago. If the first primitive animals crawling around on the seabed had somehow built telescopes, they would have seen something remarkable. The sun would have grown more and less active over an 11-year cycle, just as it does today. That’s because our star has maintained the same steady cycle for more than 700 million years. The solar cycle is most visible as the number of relatively dark sunspots on the sun’s surface. During a solar maximum there are many sunspots, and hardly any during a minimum. Maxima and minima alternate over an 11-year cycle, which has been consistent over hundreds of years of observations, except for occasional “grand minima” during which the cycle is temporarily suppressed. Evidence from the geological record suggests that this cycle has held fairly steady for several hundred million years. The solar cycle during the dinosaur era was similar to that of today. Researchers led by Dongjie Tang and Xiaoying Shi of the China University of Geosciences in Beijing have now reconstructed solar cycles from 810-715 million years ago. At this time, life on Earth was still relatively primitive and there probably weren’t any complex animals. The planet was about to almost entirely freeze over, for the second time in its history, becoming Snowball Earth. To find out what the solar cycle was like, the team studied sedimentary rocks called laminites, found in south China.

Secrets of the Sun

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Secrets of the Sun for showing us how the
life giving Sun probably works, what we know and what we don't.