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Sigmoids - An Answer to Venus' Polar Vortex Mystery?
by Michael Gmirkin

May 16, 2009
The revelation that solar flare precursors (sigmoids) are largely electrical in nature may yield an unexpected explanation of a longstanding mystery at Venus. Can the electric theory derived from the study of sigmoids also be applied to the double-eyed vortices at Venus' poles, killing two birds with one stone?
Solar 'sigmoids' and Venus' south polar vortex
Left: Evolution of a sigmoid (solar flare precursor).
Credit: NASA / STFC / ISAS / JAXA / A. Hood (St. Andrews),
V. Archontis (St. Andrews).
Right: Double-eyed vortex at Venus' south pole.
Credit: ESA / VIRTIS / INAF-IASF / Obs. de Paris-LESIA
[Click to enlarge]
Venus' double-eyed polar vortices have stymied researchers since they were first reported. In 2006, data from Venus Express surprised observers with the presence of a massive double-eyed vortex at Venus' south pole. Previous data had hinted at a double-eyed vortex at the north pole of the planet as well. Nobody has yet determined why such vortices should be double-eyed.
…we are still not able to explain why the global atmospheric circulation of the planet results in a double and not single vortex formation at the poles.
Higher resolution close-up imaging only confounded the issue by detailing a highly dynamic fine structure linking the two eyes of the south polar vortex.

However, not all hope of resolving the mystery is lost. The answer may lie in the fields of electrodynamics and plasma physics.

Recently announced findings from the Hinode team about the precursors of solar flares might just be an unexpected watershed moment for understanding the physics of Venus as well.
'Sigmoids' are S-shaped structures found in the outer atmosphere of the Sun (the corona) … the structure of the sigmoid is complex: it consists of many, differently oriented, loops that all together form two opposite J-like bundles or an overall S-shape.
When compared side-by-side, the sigmoids bear a striking similarity to the fine structure of the Venusian double-eyed polar vortices (as shown above).
The new model describes how sigmoids consist of many thin and twisted layers (or ribbons) of strong electric current.
It is the contention of this article that the similarity is more than superficial and that further investigation of the Venusian poles should concentrate on determining whether the electrodynamic interpretation is correct. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

In fact, this is not the first time that such an interpretation has been offered. In a 2006 article, Australian plasma physicist Wallace Thornhill commented:
Of particular interest are the linear filaments sometimes seen connecting the opposite sides of the hot spots [in Venus' double-eyed vortices]. Taylor writes: “It is virtually impossible, even with complete license, to begin to speculate in any detail as to what mechanism could give rise to such a curious effect.” The answer, in the Electric Universe model is simple. They are a feature seen in simulations of the behavior between two converging Birkeland current filaments where plasma becomes trapped in the elliptical core between them.
Furthermore, Thornhill has also conjectured that the same mechanism will apply equally well to the fine structure of Saturn's polar vortices, once sufficiently resolved by more sensitive instruments.
The image [of Saturn's polar vortex in infrared], while being incomplete, supports the electrical model. At around 300˚ we see the yellow-reddish cusp feature of one Birkeland filament. At intervals, heated gas from that filament is 'squirted' in a thin jet into the central 'sump,' indicated by the reddish patch over the pole. The inward jets alternate between the two filaments so we may expect the pattern to be repeated where the infrared data is missing.
It seems that a single unifying theory (utilizing electrodynamics) may soon be able to conceptually unify the otherwise disparate processes of solar flare precursors and the polar vortices of Venus and even Saturn. While more work certainly needs to be done to validate the relationship, this is a promising new insight, if researchers in the field choose to acknowledge and pursue it.

Michael Gmirkin
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Michael Gmirkin
Michael Gmirkin is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in exploring the electrical nature of the universe.

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