Gregory's Blog

Talking Stars?

I was wandering through an old hard drive searching for something else, and found this passage from an earlier draft of Sun of gOd. It made the book, but with no illustration, and is a nice little taster, or an enhanced reminder. It’s short and to the point – – –

Many of the remarkable phenomenon taking place on and within the Sun are propagating vast amounts of radio waves and other forms of energy. These invisible vibrations are transmitted throughout the solar system and into the rest of our galaxy.

Solar flares are one such process, and using simple equipment, radio astronomers are able to listen to the radio signals that accompany solar flares. They have categorised at least five different types of signal, with distinct characteristics to each, some of them displaying harmonics (see below).

It is generally assumed that solar radio signals have no actual purpose, and simply represents meaningless emissions triggered by automatic primary processes, akin to gas that escapes from us after a poorly digested meal. But perhaps the incredible capacity for communication that is available within Sun’s electro-magnetic exports is being put to active use. I suggest that we can barely comprehend the incredible scope for content and information that is available within these electro-magnetic exports from the Sun – and that the facility is being put to use.

Who knows what sorts of conversations might take place between our Sun and other stars, or for what purpose they would exchange information? But one could be excused for thinking that this looks like what is going on.

The solar burst shown above was recorded at 20.1 mHz with very simple equipment on June 10, 2000 by Wes Greenman, engineer of the University of Florida Radio Observatory. The stair-stepped signal on the right side of the chart is a calibration signal.

Solar radio bursts are classified as follows:

Type I  Short, narrow band events that usually occur in great numbers together with a broader band continuum. May last for hours or days.

Type II  Slow drift from high to low frequencies. Often show fundamental and second harmonic frequency structure.

Type III  Rapidly drift from high to low frequencies. May exhibit harmonics. Often accompany the flash phase of large flares.

Type IV  Flare-related broad-band continua.

Type V  Broad-band continual which may appear with III bursts. Last 1 to 2 minutes, with duration increasing as frequency decreases.





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