Page Five: On Sun Anomalies
Sun's Heat Causes Problems in Asteroid Belt
Colleen Johnston © 2003
In 2000, scientists released disturbing
information that the sun's heat is the most likely cause for meteorites and
asteroids to dislodge out of the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter.
In recent months more asteroids have been dislodging and are being discovered
with frightening regularity. The sun has been behaving strangely ever since the
last solar cycle began in 1998 including a flip of the solar north and south
poles! A solar cycle of active sun spots and solar flares occurs ever 11 years.
According to the late Paolo Farinella, of Italy and researcher David Vokrouhlicky, concluded that warming and emission of heat by asteroid fragments called meteorites, in the asteroid belt caused them to drift into orbital consecution over a period of time. The possibility exists that once the fragments are dislodged gravitational fields from both Mars and Jupiter could send them into new paths that might intersect the Earth.
It was previously thought that asteroids collided bumping into each other, ejecting the meteorite fragments into regions in the asteroid belt called orbital resonance's. Exactly how meteorites, or asteroid fragments, come to smash into the Earth has been the subject of scientific debate for a couple of centuries.
The theory claims that the sun warms asteroids on one side, while the remaining side is cold and always away from the sun. Re-radiation of the Sun's heat on the surface of the rocks causes a small irreducible intensity across its path sending it into a different orbit. Vokrouhlicky from the Charles University in Prague, say the heat differences, called "Yarkovsky forces" explain problems of meteorite age and origin that have until now bewildered scientists.
The Sun's brightness has been increasing steadily for the past 3 years. The change is expected and astronomers predict that the Sun's radiation will start reducing again after peaking this year. It is not known if maximum solar cycles affect the asteroid belt or increase the odds of a hit. The sun repeats a cycle approximately every 11 years and since 1997 has been in cycle twenty-three. Now, near the predicted time of maximum, levels of radiation are 0.06 percent higher than in 1996. However, in 1990, the same stage of the last cycle, according to Dr. Judith Lean of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC the rise had been 0.09 percent. It is not believed to be the cause of the "Yarkovsky forces" researched by Farinella and Vokrouhlicky.
In another related report conducted by the Near Earth Objects Task Force, worldwide action is needed to reduce the risk of a medium to large size NEO striking Earth.
An impact with even a medium-sized asteroid would put of many thousands of lives at risk from the initial intensity blast, followed by massive tsunamis and what's called the "nuclear winter" effect. A nuclear winter can last for dozens to hundreds of years. It would have the potential of blocking sunrays from reaching the earth effecting plants the ecological chain and all life on Earth.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville, England the Science Minister set up the panel, which was chaired by Harry Atkinson, a former chairman of the European Space Agency. Lord Sainsbury is expected to respond to the findings by the end of the year to see if it's feasible to lead in the construction of a powerful new telescope as a key component of a early warning system. Estimates of the total cost of the recommendations range from 15 70 million pounds.
Currently the known asteroids and comets discovered by astronomers would present a threat to the Earth within the next 50 years. Only about 10 percent of the largest asteroids have been mapped with new objects being discovered every day. The probability of an obliterating impact is unlikely but the effects of a medium-sized planetoid made present levels of risk much greater the study concluded.
An asteroid a half mile across, which strikes Earth every 100,000 to 200,000 years, would explode with a force 65,000 times as powerful as a hydrogen bomb, killing up to 1.5 billion people. Smaller objects, which strike at an interval of 70,000 years, could kill as many as 500,000 people, depending on the place of impact. The effects would be worse if such an object were to land in the ocean because even with a medium-sized asteroid could generate a tsunami well over 200 feet high
The Earth's atmosphere protects us from most Near Earth Objects smaller than a modest office from this size up to about 1-mile diameter; an impacting NEO can do tremendous damage on a local scale. Above the energy of a million megatons (diameter about 2 miles), an impact will produce severe environmental damage on a global scale. Still larger impacts can cause mass extinction, like the one that landed in the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago.
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