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Solar Flares on Steroids: NASA

  1. Sep 17, 2003 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2003 #2

    I noticed this article at Physics-
    Posts as well and a couple of
    related ones.

    It discusses these "magnetars"
    which are the most densly magnetic
    of all celestial things.

    The sun's solar flares are complex
    magnetic phenomena, it explains.

    It is not immediately obvious to
    me what is generating the magnetic
    fields in the sun and other stars?

    Here's what I know that is pre-
    venting me from understanding how
    a star could have a magnetic

    When you heat a piece of ferro-
    magnetic metal to a temp. above
    its Curie temp. (Not very
    hot in star terms) it loses all
    ability to generate or respond to
    a magnetic field. The molecules
    become too energetic to maintain
    the orderly arrangement needed for
    their combined magnetic fields to
    add up to a general one.

    Although I'm sure there are vast
    quantities of charged particles in
    a star, it would seem the intense
    heat would prevent them from ever
    organizing to the point where a
    magnetic field could be generated.

    How do stars generate their magnetic fields?
  4. Sep 18, 2003 #3
    Good Question ZOOBYSHOE!
  5. Sep 18, 2003 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Well, I can make a best guess. Even though we may have highly chaotic motion on the local level, from the more distant perspective we still get a large scale average motion. This can be seen in the latest movies that show the sun's rotation. So, just as we can consider the motion of any particular electron in a wire as nearly random, we can still observe the large scale average motion of many electrons in a wire as a steady current with a fixed magnetic field.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2003
  6. Sep 19, 2003 #5
    There are two ways of producing magnetic fields, by using moving charges, and by some form of spontaneous sysmmetry breaking, as in ferromagnetism. The currnt wisdom! is that the fields are produced by the so-called dynamo effect, but my vote is definitely for spontaneous symmetry breaking.
  7. Sep 19, 2003 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Interesting. Why?
  8. Sep 20, 2003 #7


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    This is a question we have yet to answer. You might want to look in on the doin's of a Dr Daniel Perry Lathrop, who's currently attempting to model the Earth's magnetic field. His models are based on the dynamo principle. If he is successfull, it will be good supporting evidence that the stars generate their fields this same way.

    I did not see any predictions in the link as to how much matter a star might blow off in such an eruption. If anyone has some thoughts regarding this, it would help me work through a model of Solar System formation I've been toying with.
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