Original Article

Astrophysics and Space Science

, Volume 348, Issue 1, pp 25-39

First online:

Empirical evidences for a planetary modulation of total solar irradiance and the TSI signature of the 1.09-year Earth-Jupiter conjunction cycle

  • Nicola ScafettaAffiliated withActive Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor (ACRIM)Duke University Email author 
  • , Richard C. WillsonAffiliated withActive Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor (ACRIM)

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The time series of total solar irradiance (TSI) satellite observations since 1978 provided by ACRIM and PMOD TSI composites are studied. We find empirical evidence for planetary-induced forcing and modulation of solar activity. Power spectra and direct data pattern analysis reveal a clear signature of the 1.09-year Earth-Jupiter conjunction cycle, in particular during solar cycle 23 maximum. This appears to suggest that the Jupiter side of the Sun is slightly brighter during solar maxima. The effect is observed when the Earth crosses the Sun-Jupiter conjunction line every 1.09 years. Multiple spectral peaks are observed in the TSI records that are coherent with known planetary harmonics such as the spring, orbital and synodic periods among Mercury, Venus, Earth and Jupiter: the Mercury-Venus spring-tidal cycle (0.20 year); the Mercury orbital cycle (0.24 year); the Venus-Jupiter spring-tidal cycle (0.32 year); the Venus-Mercury synodic cycle (0.40 year); the Venus-Jupiter synodic cycle (0.65 year); and the Venus-Earth spring tidal cycle (0.80 year). Strong evidence is also found for a 0.5-year TSI cycle that could be driven by the Earth’s crossing the solar equatorial plane twice a year and may indicate a latitudinal solar-luminosity asymmetry. Because both spring and synodic planetary cycles appear to be present and the amplitudes of their TSI signatures appear enhanced during sunspot cycle maxima, we conjecture that on annual and sub-annual scales both gravitational and electro-magnetic planet-sun interactions and internal non-linear feedbacks may be modulating solar activity. Gravitational tidal forces should mostly stress spring cycles while electro-magnetic forces could be linked to the solar wobbling dynamics, and would mostly stress the synodic cycles. The observed statistical coherence between the TSI records and the planetary harmonics is confirmed by three alternative tests.


Solar dynamo Solar total irradiance Helioseismology Planet-star interactions Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)