Nearby supernova and solar wind

In summary: Altair and Procyon are above mass type G like our sun, and most are smaller at type K and a lot of M's. If we are talking about type II supernovae, the neutrinos would not do much but excite the nerds at the neutrino detectors, and the gamma and X ray surges would be blocked by our atmosphere as is done now resulting in large "particle cascades" we see from GRB's now, only a whole lot more in one, big surge. I don't think that the gravitational surge could be large enough to cause any Earthquakes. But, a lot of Doomsayers have links to pages that would say we would be slammed or radiated into oblivion.
  • #1
Mike2
1,313
0
Suppose there were a nearby supernova, say 10 to 20 lightyears away. It's not close enough to incenerate the earth. Would such an event cause the solar wind to become swept away? If so, would there come a great earthquake as the wave went by the earth? I suppose that the gravity of such a wave before going by the Earth would pretty much have the same effect as it does now. But it seems that there would be a sudden shift as the wave passed by. Everything is symmetrical in front of us, but then, within an hour or a few minutes everything is behind us. In other words, instead of solar wind all going out evenly in all directions from the sun, for a brief time it is all swept in one direction. So then there is a gigantic wall of concentrated solar particles headed in our direction. At first it is at the distance of the sun and does not have any effect. The net gravitational effect would be a slight tidal effect towards the sun. This direction of tidal effect would be in the same direction until the moment it passes by; it would get stronger as the wall approached earth, and then suddenly the tidal effect would be in the opposite direction. Would such a sudden shift cause a devestating earthquake? Thanks.
 
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  • #2
Mike2 said:
Suppose there were a nearby supernova, say 10 to 20 lightyears away. It's not close enough to incenerate the earth. Would such an event cause the solar wind to become swept away? If so, would there come a great earthquake as the wave went by the earth? I suppose that the gravity of such a wave before going by the Earth would pretty much have the same effect as it does now. But it seems that there would be a sudden shift as the wave passed by. Everything is symmetrical in front of us, but then, within an hour or a few minutes everything is behind us. In other words, instead of solar wind all going out evenly in all directions from the sun, for a brief time it is all swept in one direction. So then there is a gigantic wall of concentrated solar particles headed in our direction. At first it is at the distance of the sun and does not have any effect. The net gravitational effect would be a slight tidal effect towards the sun. This direction of tidal effect would be in the same direction until the moment it passes by; it would get stronger as the wall approached earth, and then suddenly the tidal effect would be in the opposite direction. Would such a sudden shift cause a devestating earthquake? Thanks.
First, I think that there are too many variables in the question to come up with an answer. However, since about 98%+ of a supernova's energy is released as neutrinos with the rest being a gravitational surge and then the molecular ejecta traveling at about 0.20 c, I would have to guess that such a nearby supernove would make a helluva display to watch but not much else unless it was some type of "Hypernova" with enough radiation (when it got here) to do significant damage to our atmosphere. A list of stars within 20 ly of us can be found at:
http://www.anzwers.org/free/universe/nearstar.html

I think that only Sirius, Altair and Procyon are above mass type G like our sun, and most are smaller at type K and a lot of M's. If we are talking about type II supernovae, the neutrinos would not do much but excite the nerds at the neutrino detectors, and the gamma and X ray surges would be blocked by our atmosphere as is done now resulting in large "particle cascades" we see from GRB's now, only a whole lot more in one, big surge. I don't think that the gravitational surge could be large enough to cause any Earthquakes. But, a lot of Doomsayers have links to pages that would say we would be slammed or radiated into oblivion.

I just think that the inverse square law will work in our favor, but I was wrong once before, I think... :confused:
 
  • #3
Labguy said:
First, I think that there are too many variables in the question to come up with an answer. However, since about 98%+ of a supernova's energy is released as neutrinos with the rest being a gravitational surge and then the molecular ejecta traveling at about 0.20 c, I would have to guess that such a nearby supernove would make a helluva display to watch but not much else unless it was some type of "Hypernova" with enough radiation (when it got here) to do significant damage to our atmosphere. A list of stars within 20 ly of us can be found at:
http://www.anzwers.org/free/universe/nearstar.html

I think that only Sirius, Altair and Procyon are above mass type G like our sun, and most are smaller at type K and a lot of M's. If we are talking about type II supernovae, the neutrinos would not do much but excite the nerds at the neutrino detectors, and the gamma and X ray surges would be blocked by our atmosphere as is done now resulting in large "particle cascades" we see from GRB's now, only a whole lot more in one, big surge. I don't think that the gravitational surge could be large enough to cause any Earthquakes. But, a lot of Doomsayers have links to pages that would say we would be slammed or radiated into oblivion.

I just think that the inverse square law will work in our favor, but I was wrong once before, I think... :confused:
Thanks for the info.

Let's see. Suppose a quarter of the solar wind was blown off its normal course and headed in our direction in a wall of about 20 times its normal density of the solar wind, where such a wall was about the size of the Earth's orbit... for starters. What king of gravitational pull would it exert? And would this constitue a major shock when it suddenly changed from a gravitational force pulling towards the sun to a force pulling away from the sun? thanks.
 
  • #4
Mike2 said:
Thanks for the info.

Let's see. Suppose a quarter of the solar wind was blown off its normal course and headed in our direction in a wall of about 20 times its normal density of the solar wind, where such a wall was about the size of the Earth's orbit... for starters. What king of gravitational pull would it exert? And would this constitue a major shock when it suddenly changed from a gravitational force pulling towards the sun to a force pulling away from the sun? thanks.
I'm not much on solar system stuff, so I just keep a bunch of pages bookmarked to look it up when I need to.

But, when you say "solar wind" you are just talking about particles we get every day plus the increases that come with some big CME's. No EM radiation included in the definition. At: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_wind it gives a good summary of solar wind:

In the solar system, the composition of the solar wind is identical to the Sun's corona, 73% hydrogen and 25% helium with the remainder as trace impurities. The exact composition has not yet been measured. A sample return mission, Genesis, returned to Earth in 2004 and is undergoing analysis, but it was damaged by crash-landing when its parachute failed to deploy on re-entry to Earth's atmosphere.
Near Earth, the velocity of the solar wind varies from 200-889 km/s. The average is 450 km/s. Approximately 800 kg/s of material is lost by the Sun as ejected solar wind, a negligible amount compared to the Sun's light output, which is equivalent to about 4.5 Tg (4.5×109 kg) of mass converted to energy every second.
Since solar wind is a plasma, it carries with it the Sun's magnetic field. Out to a distance of approximately 160 Gm (100,000,000 miles), the sun's rotation sweeps the solar wind into a spiral pattern by dragging its magnetic field lines with it, but beyond that distance solar wind moves outwards without much additional influence directly from the sun. Unusually energetic outbursts of solar wind caused by solar flares and other such solar weather phenomena are known as "solar storms" and can subject space probes and satellites to strong doses of radiation. Solar wind particles trapped in Earth's magnetic field tend to collect within the Van Allen radiation belts and can cause the polar aurora, when they impact with Earth's atmosphere near the poles. Other planets with magnetic fields similar to Earth's also have their own auroras.
The solar wind blows a "bubble" in the interstellar medium (the rarefied hydrogen and helium gas that permeates the galaxy). The point where the solar wind's strength is no longer great enough to push back the interstellar medium is known as the heliopause, and is often considered to be the outer "border" of the solar system. The distance to the heliopause is not precisely known, and probably varies widely depending on the current velocity of the solar wind and the local density of the interstellar medium, but it is known to lie far outside the orbit of Pluto.
The effects on Earth from solar storms, including EM radiation can be found about 2/3 of the way down at: http://www.solcomhouse.com/solar.html where it states:
A large CME can contain 10.0E16 grams (a billion tons) of matter that can be accelerated to several million miles per hour
That billion tons is actually no more mass than a very small mountain (or large hill) and is the total ejecta spread out over a large area. At the very bottom of that page is a chart showing the ~particle numbers of type S1 to S 5 flares and you can see that even the difference of 20 times "normal", as in your example above, the solar wind (particles) is far less than the spread from S1 to S5 particles that would be hitting our (Earth's) magnetic field for deflection.

But, since you had asked about gravitational effects, someone could probably put the math to it, but I wouldn't think that such a small amount of actual mass would have any noticable gravitational effects that we could notice or measure at all. The effects on the aurora, power grids, satellites, etc., however, would be huge.
 
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  • #5
93,000,000mile*1.609344km/mile*1second/450km=332597.76seconds=3.85days for the solar wind to get from the sun to the earth.

800kg/s*332597.76s= 266078208kg of mass within the radius of the earth.=didelly squat.

OK, could a nearby supernova trigger gigantic solar flares?
 
  • #6
Mike2 said:
93,000,000mile*1.609344km/mile*1second/450km=332597.76seconds=3.85days for the solar wind to get from the sun to the earth.

800kg/s*332597.76s= 266078208kg of mass within the radius of the earth.=didelly squat.

OK, could a nearby supernova trigger gigantic solar flares?
For that to happen, there would have to be some effect which would cause significant change in the way the sun's magnetic field is wound by differential rotation. It is this differential and "magnetic breaking" that causes solar flares (and CME's) as:
In fact, the Sun's equatorial regions rotate faster (taking only about 24 days) than the polar regions (which rotate once in more than 30 days). The source of this "differential rotation" is an area of current research in solar astronomy.*1
This magnetic effect causes flares as:
Solar flares are intense, temporary releases of energy. They are seen at ground-based observatories as bright areas on the Sun in optical wavelengths and as bursts of noise at radio wavelengths; they can last from minutes to hours. The primary energy source for flares appears to be the tearing and reconnection of strong magnetic fields. They radiate throughout the electromagnetic spectrum through visible light out to kilometer-long radio waves.
A flare is defined as a sudden, rapid, and intense variation in brightness. A solar flare occurs when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released. Radiation is emitted across virtually the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves at the long wavelength end, through optical emission to x-rays and gamma rays at the short wavelength end.*2
A solar flare is a short-lived sudden increase in the intensity of radiation emitted in the neighborhood of sunspots. It is best seen in H-alpha wavelength and usually occurs in the chromosphere, though in modern times the solar X-ray wavelengths are monitored more routinely. Flares are characterized by a rise time of the order of minutes and a decay of the order of tens of minutes. The total energy expended in a typical flare is about 10**30 ergs; the magnetic field is extraordinarily high, reaching values of 100 to 10,000 gauss. Optical flares are usually accompanied by radio and X-ray bursts, and occasionally by high-energy particle emissions.*3
*1. http://science.nasa.gov/ssl/pad/solar/sunturn.htm
*2. http://www.solcomhouse.com/solar.html
*3. http://ngdc.noaa.gov/stp/SOLAR/ftpsolarflares.html#cfi

Also, some flare info at:
http://hesperia.gsfc.nasa.gov/sftheory/flare.htm
http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/headline_universe/fisk.html
(Sorry to be so generic and non-tech with these links)

Bottom line is that since so much of the generation of the sun's magnetic field depends on differential rotation, and since this field is so determinate in producing solar flares and CME's, I can't think of any nearby supernova influence strong enough to cause a change in the sun's field/flares.
 
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  • #7
Labguy said:
Bottom line is that since so much of the generation of the sun's magnetic field depends on differential rotation, and since this field is so determinate in producing solar flares and CME's, I can't think of any nearby supernova influence strong enough to cause a change in the sun's field/flares.
OK,... what about a plasmoid caused by the nova wind of the supernova being interrupted by the magnetic field of the sun? I've seen how plasmoids are created when the solar wind interacts with the magnetic field of the earth. It casuses the magnetic field not to go from North to South, but the wind stretches the field lines far behind the Earth and they get pinched together to form their own circular magnetic closed loop without returning to earth. These closed loops then travel away from the sun and carry quite a lot of energy, so I am told. Perhaps a charged interstellar wind, or maybe just a lot of solar wind swept back towards the sun, might cause a gigantic plasmoid as it sweeps by the magnetic field of the sun. Would this sun plasmoid have a magnetic field strong enough to cause an extreme earthquake if the magnetic field of the plasmoid from the sun were to first pull on the Earth's magnetic field and then push on it with a great force? The Earth's magnetic field emminates from the iron core. So I wonder if such a force on it would shake the core of the Earth and then the surface. Thanks.
 
  • #8
Mike2 said:
OK,... what about a plasmoid caused by the nova wind of the supernova being interrupted by the magnetic field of the sun? I've seen how plasmoids are created when the solar wind interacts with the magnetic field of the earth. It casuses the magnetic field not to go from North to South, but the wind stretches the field lines far behind the Earth and they get pinched together to form their own circular magnetic closed loop without returning to earth. These closed loops then travel away from the sun and carry quite a lot of energy, so I am told. Perhaps a charged interstellar wind, or maybe just a lot of solar wind swept back towards the sun, might cause a gigantic plasmoid as it sweeps by the magnetic field of the sun. Would this sun plasmoid have a magnetic field strong enough to cause an extreme earthquake if the magnetic field of the plasmoid from the sun were to first pull on the Earth's magnetic field and then push on it with a great force? The Earth's magnetic field emminates from the iron core. So I wonder if such a force on it would shake the core of the Earth and then the surface. Thanks.
I suppose one might think that a plasmoid created in this way could not contain any more energy than the solar wind used to create it. And as I've calculated, this is nowhere near enough to create an earthquake. However, it might be that it takes far less energy to sweep the sun's magnetic field lines far behind and pinch it together than the energy contained in the plasmoid as a whole.
 
  • #9
The nastiest effects would come from things like destruction of the ozone layer, most satellites being zapped (only a few military ones sufficiently hardened to be certain of surviving) or de-orbited (Earth's atmosphere expands, applies to LEOsats only), terrestrial power grids going bonkers, and so on. There'd be some awesome aurorae!
 
  • #10
Mike2 said:
I suppose one might think that a plasmoid created in this way could not contain any more energy than the solar wind used to create it. And as I've calculated, this is nowhere near enough to create an earthquake. However, it might be that it takes far less energy to sweep the sun's magnetic field lines far behind and pinch it together than the energy contained in the plasmoid as a whole.

I was not able to find a clear statement about how much energy is contained in plasmoids created because of the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's magnetic field. I found that there are about 5 created per day. And there can't be too much of a depletion of energy from the earth, or such a reduction of energy would have observable consequences for Earth and perhaps the moon. Nevertheless, the energy carried away does seem to be more than the energy of the solar wind that creates them. So I imagine that a solar wind swept back across the sun by a nearby supernova could create a plasmoid for the same reason. I suspect that such a solar plasmoid would be stronger than a plasmoid created by Earth by a factor as great as the sun's magnetic field is to the Earth's magnetic field. And I've read that the magnetic field associated with sunspots are 2500 gauss whereas the strength of the Earth's magnetic field is less than 1 gauss. If this were contained in a plasmoid that swept across the Earth could this seriously shake the Earth's core? I suppose it would depend on the fast the magnetic field of the plasmoid swept across the earth. If it were slow, then there would probably be no change. I assume plasmoids travel about the same speed as the solar wind which is about 500km/s.
 

Related to Nearby supernova and solar wind

1. What is a supernova?

A supernova is a powerful explosion that occurs when a massive star reaches the end of its life cycle and collapses under its own weight. This explosion releases an enormous amount of energy, outshining an entire galaxy for a brief period of time.

2. How do nearby supernovae affect Earth?

Nearby supernovae can have a variety of effects on Earth, including altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere, creating new elements, and potentially causing mass extinctions. However, the closest known supernova to Earth was located about 150 light-years away and had minimal impact on our planet.

3. How does the solar wind affect Earth?

The solar wind is a stream of charged particles emitted by the sun. When these particles interact with Earth's magnetic field, they can cause phenomena such as auroras and can also disrupt satellite communications and power grids. However, Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere provide protection from the harmful effects of the solar wind.

4. What is the connection between nearby supernovae and solar wind?

When a supernova occurs, it releases a burst of high-energy particles that can travel through space and interact with the solar wind. This interaction can affect the intensity and direction of the solar wind, which in turn can impact Earth's magnetosphere and potentially create auroras.

5. Are there any ongoing studies or predictions about nearby supernovae and solar wind?

Yes, scientists continue to study the effects of nearby supernovae and solar wind on Earth and other planets in our solar system. Some studies focus on predicting potential future supernovae that could impact Earth, while others explore the potential use of solar wind as a source of energy for space travel.

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