An Iron Sun?
There are times that things make you think. Sometimes really hard. And at the end of the thinking, you still have no conclusions. Just more questions.
The “Iron Sun” theory puts me in that position.
I’m not ready to toss out the “Sun As I Know It”, but this paper by Oliver K. Manuel shows someone who has done some homework and has interesting different ideas about ‘Ol Sol.
The information from the title page:
Oliver K. Manuel
Emeritus Professor, Space and Nuclear Studies
University of Missouri, Rolla, MO 65401
Associate, Climate & Solar Science Institute
625 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
So we’ve got some credentials backing up this paper.
There is even a discussion of the thesis in Science Daily:
Manuel believes a supernova rocked our area of the Milky Way galaxy some five billion years ago, giving birth to all the heavenly bodies that populate the solar system. Analyses of meteorites reveal that all primordial helium is accompanied by “strange xenon,” he says, adding that both helium and strange xenon came from the outer layer of the supernova that created the solar system. Helium and strange xenon are also seen together in Jupiter.
Manuel has spent the better part of his 40-year scientific career trying to convince others of his hypothesis. Back in 1975, Manuel and another UMR researcher, Dr. Dwarka Das Sabu, first proposed that the solar system formed from the debris of a spinning star that exploded as a supernova. They based their claim on studies of meteorites and moon samples which showed traces of strange xenon.
Data from NASA’s Galileo probe of Jupiter’s helium-rich atmosphere in 1996 reveals traces of strange xenon gases — solid evidence against the conventional model of the solar system’s creation, Manuel says.
And that is one of the more compelling bits. The odd isotopes found laying about the solar system.
It’s not a particularly hard read, nor all that long (about 10 pages if you don’t count the references, of which there are about 3 1/2 pages.
The basic thesis is pretty simple. The sun is not a big ball of hydrogen with a bit of helium in it, but is a ball of material about like the rest of the solar system (including rocky and iron parts) and the hydrogen layer floats on top. A lot of what we see as energy from the sun is not from fusion (though a goodly chunk still is), but rather from neutron energy release as the neutrons find lower energy states, with a little bit more as some neutrons decay into hydrogen. The sun drives our climate more than anything else, and it is the planets stirring it around that causes it to cycle.
The idea is that the heavy stuff sinks to the center of the sun and the light stuff floats on top. Then the planetary gravity stirs the pot.
The first level of cross check that I do is to compare an assertion to what I know about normal processes and simple facts. A “sanity check”. Then I get into more details analysis. At the top level, things “fit”. (They also “fit” in the standard model, so don’t get too excited about a ‘fit’…)
We know that the solar system formed from the debris of a supernova, as we have elements here that can only be made that way. So why would the sun get only H and He? But we also know that the heavier a planet is, the more effectively it can hang on to light elements. Saturn and Jupiter are “gas giants” as a result while Mars, Mercury, Pluto (yes, it will always be a planet to me ;-) and even the Earth are “rocky”. The accepted thesis is that there is a stone / iron heart in Jupiter and Saturn if you dig deep enough. The article puts forward the idea that the sun formed formed when a supernova exploded leaving behind a neutron star core on which the rest condensed. So ashes of SOME supernova in the standard model, or ashes if ITSELF as a supernova…
So at that point I find it is becoming an argument about degree, not of kind. The sun DOES have iron in it (we can see it in the spectrum of the sun). The ‘hard bits’ are about how much, and is it compressed into a solid in the center of the sun. The center of the sun is incredibly dense with fantastic pressures applied. Perhaps even enough to squash the iron atoms together into a ball of neutrons. At that density, what is a solid is and interesting question in its own right.
At the end, I find myself thinking: Hmmm… I could see that working. But I could also see the standard model working.
There are assertions that the standard model ‘has issues’ that are not fully presented (hey, it’s only 10 pages, what do you suspect) and some of it is likely in the referenced pages. What is discussed is well supported. Toward the end, some jabs are taken at the IPCC. While I find these welcome, it also does not advance my understanding of the Iron Sun thesis. Perhaps that was not the major intent of the paper, though. At any rate, the paper is something that does make you think.
I’m still not sure where I stand on things, but I see nothing in the thesis that is obviously wrong. So it will go onto my ‘someday list’ of things to learn more about, once other things are done.
OK, enough of me, here are some sample bits:
2.3 The Puzzling Interior of the Sun
The average solar density does not falsify the analytical results shown in Figures 2 and 3. In fact, the probability is essentially zero (P < 2 x 10-33)  that the mass fractionation seen across isotopes in the solar wind would fortuitously identify the more abundant elements in meteorites  as the ones that are also more abundant in the Sun . However, the average solar density and many other observations show that the internal structure of the Sun is indeed complicated. The Sun vibrates like a pulsar  and has rigid, iron-rich features beneath the photosphere . G-waves from the solar core literally shake the planet Earth . Densities within the Sun span many orders of magnitude. The average overall density of the Sun, which depends on both internal structure and composition, may be as meaningless as the average overall density in the Rutherford-Bohr model of the atom. More than that we cannot say, except that the internal structure of the Sun is unknown and appears to be very complex.
And I find my self agreeing that it must be very hard to see inside a sun…
So I suggest that you ‘give it a read’ even if all it does is make you think in a new way. It’s always nice to look at the box from outside every so often…
There are a couple of more interesting articles about The Iron Sun theory here:
Just barely posted and already an update… The URL from the comment by Oliver Manuel leads to a very interesting article. I’ve decided to add some of those bits here:
Vast Solar Eruption Shocks NASA and Raises Doubts on Sun Theory
Jan 3, 2011 John O’Sullivan
NASA reports an entire hemisphere of the sun has erupted. The U.S. space agency now admits the cataclysm puts existing solar theories in doubt.
We are forever being told that the sun is a vast gas ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of our solar system. But new evidence may help prove this isn’t the case after all, according to solar experts who say the sun has an iron core.
A stunned NASA admits, “Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big. It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.”
The vast global solar eruption covers ~10^9 km of the solar photosphere. The US space agency reports, “The whole solar hemisphere erupted simultaneously in an avalanche effect that had been triggered in the tiny solar core and propagated outwards” (NASA: Dec 13, 2010).
This unprecedented event is claimed to give support to an alternative theory long held by Professor Oliver K. Manuel, a Postdoctoral Fellow of the University of California, Berkeley.
Event believed to be a Self Organized Criticality
In a never seen before occurrence, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted simultaneously in an avalanche effect triggered from inside the compact solar core and propagated outwards; scientists are describing the astonishing happening as like the sand pile effect in Self Organised Criticality.
Cliff Saunders, working for the Neutron-Repulsion Group, describes how our sun may now, in fact, be more like an atom rather than a huge gas ball. He explains, “In the atom, electrons occupy 99% of the volume and have less than 1% of the mass. In the Sun, the atmosphere and planets occupy 99% of the volume and may also have less than 1% of the mass.”
Evidence Proves Solar Theories May Need to be Re-written
Controversy about our understanding of the sun has been fomenting for years. In 1980, solar science researcher, Ralph E. Juergens lamented, “The modern astrophysical concept that ascribes the sun’s energy to thermonuclear reactions deep in the solar interior is contradicted by nearly every observable aspect of the sun.”
The astrophysics establishment has long shunned the idea of the sun having any such iron core. But this momentous event is consistent with the theory that there is a tiny dense neutron core the size of a city powered by neutron repulsion. Professor Manuel believes there is a super-conducting iron-rich shell the size of a moon or small planet surrounding the neutron core.
Backing the theory is astrophysicist Carl A. Rouse, who calculated a tiny iron-rich solar core from helioseismology data, but he has also been ignored up until now.
There is more at the other end of the link. Well written piece that I’ve chopped little chunks out of, better if read directly and in full.