Cosmic Ray Blues – Seeing Scintillating White Dwarfs

Cosmic Ray Blues - Seeing Scintillating White Dwarfs

The universe of Philosophical Astrology is populated with an array of Tolkienesque dwarfs.

Black dwarfs, for example, are purely fictional because “no black dwarfs are expected to exist in the universe”.

A black dwarf is a white dwarf that has sufficiently cooled to no longer emit significant heat or light. Because the time required for a white dwarf to reach this state is calculated to be longer than the current age of the universe (13.8 billion years), no black dwarfs are expected to exist in the universe yet, and the temperature of the coolest white dwarfs is one observational limit on the age of the universe.

Black dwarf

Fictional black dwarfs should not be confused with black holes [which feature in a different story].

Black dwarfs should not be confused with black holes or neutron stars.

Care should also be taken not to confuse fictional black dwarfs with brown dwarfs.

The name black dwarf has also been applied to substellar objects that do not have sufficient mass, approximately 0.08 solar masses, to maintain hydrogen-burning nuclear fusion.

These objects are now generally called brown dwarfs, a term coined in the 1970s.

However, just to add a little more confusion, brown dwarfs may actually be magenta in colour [as depicted in the following false colour near-infrared image.]

Many brown dwarfs would likely appear magenta to the human eye according to A. J. Burgasser…

Brown dwarf

This image of the brown dwarf binary CFBDSIR 1458+10 was obtained using the Laser Guide Star (LGS) Adaptive Optics system on the Keck II Telescope in Hawaii.

Adaptive optics cancels out much of Earth’s atmospheric interference, improving the image sharpness by a factor of ten and enabling the very small separation binary to be resolved.

This is the coolest pair of brown dwarfs found so far—the colder and dimmer of the two components is a candidate for the brown dwarf with the lowest temperature ever found.

This colour picture was created from images taken through four different filters at near-infrared wavelengths.

On the other hand, brown dwarfs may actually be “orange/red” like the Moon at total eclipse.

Many brown dwarfs would likely appear magenta to the human eye according to A. J. Burgasser, whereas another source has noted orange/red.

A bloody brown dwarf

However, if you are still having problems visualising infra-red brown dwarfs, then the following illustrations from NASA [hand crafted in the visible spectrum] may be of assistance.

Photofit gallery of brown dwarfs

Brown dwarfs are obviously very difficult to see with the naked eye.

You wouldn’t be a lot better off even if you had x-ray vision because brown dwarfs [in their quieter moments] can impersonate [fictional] black dwarfs.

However, if you have nine and a half hours worth of patience, then you might be lucky enough to see a brown dwarf x-ray flare.

Brown dwarf flare

A Chandra image of LP 944-20 [located about 16 light-years from the Solar System] before the flare and during the x-ray flare.

The first flare ever seen from a brown dwarf.

For the first 9 hours and 36 minutes of the observation, no X-rays were detected from Brown Dwarf LP 944-20 (left).

Then the brown dwarf turned on with a bright X-ray flare (right) that gradually diminished over the last few hours of the observation.

However, it’s unlikely that x-ray flares are intrinsic features of all brown dwarfs because this particular brown dwarf [LP 944-20] has an atmosphere “high in lithium”.

Therefore, the flaring may have been triggered by inbound cosmic rays scintillating in the lithium atmosphere of LP 944-20.

Observations published in 2007 showed that this object has an atmosphere high in lithium that also features dusty clouds.

Lithium… is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element.
Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable.
For this reason, it is typically stored in mineral oil.

Scintillating Cosmic Rays

The Philosophical Astrologers prefer to keep stargazing astronomers in the dark about cosmic ray scintillation.

Instead, astronomers are fed a cock and bull story [“straight up”] about “anomalous refraction” and “fluctuations in air density” without ever mentioning cosmic ray scintillation [or the atmospheric dispersal of the associated Hadronic cascades].

Twinkling, or scintillation, is a generic term for variations in apparent brightness or position of a distant luminous object viewed through a medium.

If the object lies outside the Earth’s atmosphere, as in the case of stars and planets, the phenomenon is termed astronomical scintillation; within the atmosphere, the phenomenon is termed terrestrial scintillation.

As one of the three principal factors governing astronomical seeing, atmospheric twinkling is defined as variations in illuminance only.

In simple terms, twinkling of stars is caused by the passing of light through different layers of atmosphere. Twinkling does not cause images of planets to flicker.

Most scintillation effects are caused by anomalous refraction caused by small-scale fluctuations in air density usually related to temperature gradients.

Scintillation effects are always much more pronounced near the horizon than near the zenith (straight up).

However, the Philosophical Astrologers have a really big problem with cosmic ray scintillation because they can’t differentiate between inbound scintillation and outbound scintillation when viewing objects in space [as was the case with the brown dwarf LP 944-20].

In fact, it’s doubtful whether many of the Philosophical Astrologers even realise [or document in their transactions] that they are observing atmospheric scintillation [and the associated atmospheric fluorescence] most of the time.

The Sun, for example, is hidden behind an enveloping exosphere of fluorescing hydrogen which is being bombarded by outbound radiation that originates from whatever lies beneath the Sun’s fluorescing exosphere.

Thus, the Earth [thankfully] receives inbound solar cosmic rays with a full spectrum of electromagnetic radiation plus the remnants of the Sun’s outbound Hadronic particle cascades [which we call the Solar Wind].

Therefore, the Philosophical Astrologers’ inability [unwillingness] to differentiate between inbound scintillation and outbound scintillation means that they can’t tell their arse from their elbow when they look to the heavens.

When astronauts close their eyes they see scintillating white objects caused by inbound cosmic rays.

Cosmic ray visual phenomena, also referred to as phosphenes or “light flashes”, are spontaneous flashes of light visually perceived by astronauts outside the magnetosphere of the Earth, such as during the Apollo program.

Researchers believe that cosmic rays are responsible for these flashes of light, though the exact mechanism is unknown.

Hypotheses include one or all of: Cherenkov radiation created as the cosmic ray particles pass through the vitreous humor of the astronauts’ eyes, direct interaction with the optic nerve, or direct interaction with visual centres in the brain.

Astronauts almost always reported that the flashes were white, with one exception in which the astronaut observed “blue with a white cast, like a blue diamond.”

There were a few different types of flashes: “spots” and “stars” were observed 66% of the time, “streaks” were observed 25% of the time, and “clouds” were observed 8% of the time.

When Philosophical Astrologers close their eyes they see white dwarfs instead of scintillating white objects.

A white dwarf, also called a degenerate dwarf, is a stellar remnant composed mostly of electron-degenerate matter.

They are very dense; a white dwarf’s mass is comparable to that of the Sun, and its volume is comparable to that of the Earth.

Its faint luminosity comes from the emission of stored thermal energy.

The nearest known white dwarf is Sirius B, 8.6 light years away, the smaller component of the Sirius binary star.

There are currently thought to be eight white dwarfs among the hundred star systems nearest the Sun.

The unusual faintness of white dwarfs was first recognized in 1910 by Henry Norris Russell, Edward Charles Pickering, and Williamina Fleming; the name white dwarf was coined by Willem Luyten in 1922.

Hubble Space Telescope image of Sirius A and B

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows Sirius A, the brightest star in our nighttime sky, along with its faint, tiny stellar companion, Sirius B.

Astronomers overexposed the image of Sirius A [at centre] so that the dim Sirius B [tiny dot at lower left] could be seen.

The cross-shaped diffraction spikes and concentric rings around A*, and the small ring around Sirius B, are artifacts produced within the telescope’s imaging system.

The two stars revolve around each other every 50 years.

Sirius A, only 8.6 light-years from Earth, is the fifth closest star system known.

Unfortunately, the imaginative Philosophical Astrologers have woven white dwarfs into the very fabric of their fabled Star Evolution narrative where they are cast as “the dead cores of old stars”.

Hertzsprung–Russell diagramof stellar luminosity

Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.

A plot of luminosity (absolute magnitude) against the colour of the stars ranging from the high-temperature blue-white stars on the left side of the diagram to the low temperature red stars on the right side.

“This diagram below is a plot of 22000 stars from the Hipparcos Catalogue together with 1000 low-luminosity stars (red and white dwarfs) from the Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars. The ordinary hydrogen-burning dwarf stars like the Sun are found in a band running from top-left to bottom-right called the Main Sequence. Giant stars form their own clump on the upper-right side of the diagram. Above them lie the much rarer bright giants and supergiants. At the lower-left is the band of white dwarfs – these are the dead cores of old stars which have no internal energy source and over billions of years slowly cool down towards the bottom-right of the diagram.”

Unfortunately, for the Philosophical Astrologers, it’s really impossible to differentiate between the “dead cores of old stars” and any other fluorescing planet or lump of rock.

Firstly, white dwarfs are luminously “faint” like the Earth and Moon.

Its faint luminosity comes from the emission of stored thermal energy.

The unusual faintness of white dwarfs was first recognized in 1910 by Henry Norris Russell, Edward Charles Pickering, and Williamina Fleming;

Secondly, white dwarfs are modestly sized with radii that are “comparable to the Earth’s radius”

The estimated radii of observed white dwarfs, however, are typically between 0.008 and 0.02 times the radius of the Sun; this is comparable to the Earth’s radius of approximately 0.009 solar radius.

Thirdly, white dwarfs have outer fluorescing atmospheres which are dominated by hydrogen [or helium] just like the Earth [which has layers that are dominated by helium and finally hydrogen].

spectroscopy typically shows that their emitted light comes from an atmosphere which is observed to be either hydrogen-dominated or helium-dominated.

The dominant element is usually at least 1,000 times more abundant than all other elements.

Fourthly, white dwarfs fluoresce over a wide colour range from blue-white to red just like Earth.

The visible radiation emitted by white dwarfs varies over a wide color range, from the blue-white color of an O-type main sequence star to the red of an M-type red dwarf.[57]

Fifthly, white dwarfs effective surface temperatures extend down to under 4,000 K which is not must higher than the Earth’s thermosphere which can reach 2,773 K.

White dwarf effective surface temperatures extend from over 150,000 K to barely under 4,000 K.

The highly diluted gas in this layer can reach 2,500 °C (4,530 °F) during the day.

Sixthly, white dwarfs are “often found” in a star system just like the Earth is in the Solar System.

White dwarfs are often found in multiple star systems, which puzzles astronomers because “it is not easy to understand how two stars of the same age could be so different.”

Twinkle, twinkle electric star – Wal Thornhill

Basically, the Philosophical Astrologers haven’t observed anything beyond the predominantly hydrogen and helium exospheres of the white dwarfs.

This atmosphere, the only part of the white dwarf visible to us…

Unfortunately, the Philosophical Astrologers have created a vast catalogue of creative conjecture about white dwarfs [and stars] that is based upon fiction, fancy and fashion rather than observation.

Ultimately, white dwarfs are observationally similar to planets like the Earth and the Moon.

The Moon and Sirius B are both faint in the visual spectrum but are bright in either the gamma ray or x-ray spectrums because their luminosities are driven by inbound radiation.

Sirius and the Moon

From a distance even the Earth and Moon look like white dwarf companions to the Sun.

MESSENGER image of Earth and the Moon

This image was acquired on May 6, 2010, as part of MESSENGER’s campaign to search for vulcanoids.

In the lower left portion, the Earth can be seen, as well as the much smaller Moon to Earth’s right.

When MESSENGER took this image, a distance of 183 million kilometers (114 million miles) separated the spacecraft and Earth.

To provide context for this distance, the average separation between the Earth and the Sun is about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles).

Sadly, until the Philosophical Astrologers publicly start to differentiate between inbound scintillation and outbound scintillation we are left with flimflam.

Gallery | This entry was posted in Astrophysics, Cosmic Rays, Earth, Moon, Science, Solar System. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cosmic Ray Blues – Seeing Scintillating White Dwarfs

  1. Pingback: Main Sequence – Red Dwarfs and Gas Giants | MalagaBay

  2. Pingback: The Embarrassed White Dwarf | MalagaBay

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