The Alpha Centauri Connection

The Alpha Centauri Connection

In 1922 Ellsworth Huntington recognised that the planets may well influence sunspots.

A study of sunspots suggests that their true periodicity is almost if not exactly identical with that of the orbital revolution of Jupiter, 11.8 years.

Other investigations show numerous remarkable coincidences between sunspots and the orbital revolution of the other planets, including especially Saturn and Mercury.

This seems to indicate that there is some truth in the hypothesis that sunspots and other related disturbances of the solar atmosphere owe their periodicity to the varying effects of the planets as they approach and recede from the sun in their eccentric orbits and as they combine or oppose their effects according to their relative positions.

Climatic Changes: Their Nature and Causes – 1922 – Ellsworth Huntington

Ellsworth Huntington concluded that any planetary influence on the sun was not caused by the “direct pull of gravitation” nor by the “tidal effect of the planets”.

The agency through which the planets influence the solar atmosphere is not yet clear.

The suggested agencies are the direct pull of gravitation, the tidal effect of the planets, and an electro-magnetic effect.

In Earth and Sun the conclusion is reached that the first two are out of the question, a conclusion in which E. W. Brown acquiesces.

Climatic Changes: Their Nature and Causes – 1922 – Ellsworth Huntington

This was a good call by Ellsworth Huntington because there is clear evidence that the Sun and Moon do not exert a gravitational pull on the Earth when they are overhead.

Tidal Fiction

Tidal Fiction

Thus, by a process of elimination, Ellsworth Huntington concluded that electromagnetism was the only “reasonable” mechanism by which the planets could influence the Sun.

Unless some unknown cause is appealed to, this leaves an electro-magnetic hypothesis as the only one which has a reasonable foundation.

Climatic Changes: Their Nature and Causes – 1922 – Ellsworth Huntington

This, again, was a good call by Ellsworth Huntington because there is clear evidence that the tidal effect of the Moon [when it is directly overhead] is repulsive.


Tides and the Lunar Waltz

Ellsworth Huntington also considered the possibility that stars may electrically influence the Sun.

Another possible cause of solar disturbances is that the stars in their flight through space may exert an electrical influence which upsets the equilibrium of the solar atmosphere.

Electrostatic effects… are cumulative, for if ions arrive from space they must accumulate until the body to which they have come begins to discharge them.

Here the conditions are fundamentally different from those of the tidal hypothesis.

In the first place the electrostatic effect of a body has nothing to do with its mass, but depends on the area of its surface; that is, it varies as the square of the radius.

Second, the emission of electrons varies exponentially.

If hot glowing stars follow the same law as black bodies at lower temperatures, the emission of electrons, like the emission of other kinds of energy, varies as the fourth power of the absolute temperature.

In other words, suppose there are two black bodies, otherwise alike, but one with a temperature of 27° C. or 300° on the absolute scale, and the other with 600° on the absolute scale.

The temperature of one is twice as high as that of the other, but the electrostatic effect will be sixteen times as great.

Third, the number of electrons that reach a given body varies inversely as the square of the distance, instead of as the cube which is the case with tide-making forces.

Climatic Changes: Their Nature and Causes – 1922 – Ellsworth Huntington

Accordingly, Ellsworth Huntington considered twenty six neighbouring stars and concluded that the Alpha Centauri triple star system had the greatest potential to electrically influence the Sun.

The other reason is that if our inferences as to the electrical effect of the sun on the earth and of the planets on the sun are correct, double stars, as we have seen, must be much more effective electrically than single stars.

By the same reasoning two bright stars close together must excite one another much more than a bright star and a very faint one, even if the distances in both cases are the same.

So, too, other things being equal, a triple star must be more excited electrically than a double star.

According to the electro-stellar hypothesis, Alpha Centauri is more important climatically than any other star in the heavens not only because it is triple and bright, but because it is the nearest of all stars, and moves fairly rapidly.

Climatic Changes: Their Nature and Causes – 1922 – Ellsworth Huntington
Nearest stars

Ellsworth Huntington then determined that the maximum potential influence of Alpha Centauri would recur every 81.2 years.

If Alpha Centauri is really so important, the effect of its variations, provided it has any, ought perhaps to be evident in the sun.

The activity of the star’s atmosphere presumably varies, for the orbits of the two components have an eccentricity of 0.51.

Hence during their period of revolution, 81.2 years, the distance between them ranges from 1,100,000,000 to 3,300,000,000 miles.

They were at a minimum distance in 1388, 1459, 1550, 1631, 1713, 1794, 1875, and will be again in 1956.

Climatic Changes: Their Nature and Causes – 1922 – Ellsworth Huntington

In the modern era the orbital period of Alpha Centauri has been refined down from 81.2 years to a very intriguing 79.91 years.

With the orbital period of 79.91 years, the A and B components of this binary star can approach each other to 11.2 astronomical units, equivalent to 1.67 billion km or about the mean distance between the Sun and Saturn, or may recede as far as 35.6 AU (5.3 billion km—approximately the distance from the Sun to Pluto).

In the true orbit, closest approach or periastron was in August 1955, and next in May 2035.

Furthest orbital separation at apastron last occurred in May 1995 and the next will be in 2075.

The apparent distance between the two stars is presently rapidly decreasing, at least until 2019.

Orbits of Alpha Centauri

However, this modest 1.29 year adjustment does not significantly undermine the observation made by Ellsworth Huntington that “in three and perhaps four cases the sun has been unusually active during a time when the two parts of the star were most rapidly approaching each other”.

In Fig. 11, showing sunspot variations, it is noticeable that the years 1794 and 1875 come just at the ends of periods of unusual solar activity, as indicated by the heavy horizontal line.

A similar period of great activity seems to have begun about 1914.

If its duration equals the average of its two predecessors, it will end about 1950.

Back in the fourteenth century a period of excessive solar activity, which has already been described, culminated from 1370 to 1385, or just before the two parts of Alpha Centauri were at a minimum distance.

Thus in three and perhaps four cases the sun has been unusually active during a time when the two parts of the star were most rapidly approaching each other and when their atmospheres were presumably most disturbed and their electrical emanations strongest.

Climatic Changes: Their Nature and Causes – 1922 – Ellsworth Huntington

Carbon14 climate history

The predictive capability of the Alpha Centauri periastron is far from perfect in the long term [according to the calibrated Carbon 14 dating technique].

However, it is intriguing to note that the last Alpha Centauri periastron in 1955 was at the start of the very spectacular Solar Cycle 19.

Periastron Sunspots

It is also intriguing that the observed Gleissberg Cycles have a mean duration of 78 years.

Gleissberg cycle
Cycle of solar activity, usually given to be 80-90-years (70-100 years), discovered by Wolfgang Gleißberg during research of the solar activity.

Gleissberg observed 17 cycles from the year 290 AD (with mean duration cca 78 years), see below.

Length of the cycle is not constant – it varies quite considerably (approximatelly 85 ± 15 years).

Decade-to-Century-Scale Climate Variability and Change
The sunspot record exhibits an 80-100 year period known as the Gleissberg cycle, and the apparent alternation of stronger and weaker 11-year cycles produces a concentration of variance with a 22-year period.

Decade-to-Century-Scale Climate Variability and Change
National Academy Press – 1998

And that Dr. Theodor Landscheidt detected a 79 year solar cycle.

Swinging Sun, 79-Year Cycle, and Climatic Change
The secular cycle of solar activity is related to the sun’s oscillatory motion about the center of mass of the solar system.

And that Tim Channon found a 78.94 year frequency in a solar irradiance reconstruction.

Tallbloke and Tim Channon - A cycles analysis approach to predicting solar activity

Tallbloke and Tim Channon: A cycles analysis approach to predicting solar activity

And that the atmospheric Carbon 14 record shows a distinct marker that coincides with the Alpha Centauri periastron of 1875.

Carbon 14 History

Atmospheric data from Reimer et al (2004)

Overall, it is not inconceivable that the Planets and Alpha Centauri [jointly] conspire to electromagnetically influence the Sun.

Pattern Recognition in Physics

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

2 Responses to The Alpha Centauri Connection

  1. hitchens67 says:

    Reblogged this on hitchens67 Atheism WOW!! Campaign and commented:

  2. neat stuff! I have a rather odd story about sunspots to relate. My husband had a glitch in the electrical system in his heart. He had Wolff Parkinson White syndrome where you have many more nerves than needed and it can cause your heart all sorts of problems (including beating 300 bpm randomly). This problem would consistently trigger when there was a solar storm. It started happening so much during the last solar maximum that he finally got a heart cath and the bad nerves burned out. Alas we don’t have the hard evidence since he could “bear down” and stop the tachycardia and we didn’t always end up at the ER.

    That’s frightening… and I am really amazed.
    I never knew that solar storms could have such a direct physical effect…
    This is also the first time I have heard of anyone being able to control their tachycardia… that’s some story… and some husband.
    Take care – Tim

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