Image of solar activity shows two bright bands circling the Sun

June 16, 2014
Credit: SOHO (ESA & NASA)

(Phys.org) —Back in 1998, the Sun was behaving as expected. The approximately 11-year cycle of activity was proceeding smoothly, heading towards a peak in 2001.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured this image on 9 November 1998 through its , showing radiation from bathed in a gas of around a million degrees Celsius.

This textbook image of solar activity shows two brighter bands circling the Sun at the same latitude in each hemisphere.

At these bright loops and patches are associated with dark smudges known as sunspots. They are produced when loops of magnetism become buoyant and rise from inside the Sun into the atmosphere.

When the begins, the active regions appear at in sparse numbers, disappearing after a few weeks or so. As the cycle proceeds, new and often larger active regions appear more frequently at successively lower latitudes. Many can be larger than Earth, and they sometimes persist for months.

This activity takes place in both hemispheres simultaneously, and about five or six years into the cycle sunspots reach lower latitudes closer to the equator. This is known as solar maximum.

After this, the number of spots begins to decline until they virtually disappear and the cycle starts again at high latitudes. It is one of the enduring mysteries of the Sun why this cycle happens. Certainly, it is linked to the way the Sun generates magnetism deep inside its gaseous layers but the details remain elusive.

In recent years, the Sun has deviated from this textbook behaviour. The current cycle was about two years late in starting, the hemispheres are behaving differently and the peak of activity is relatively modest. The next cycle is expected to continue in this new vein. It may even be weaker than the current cycle.

Explore further: Solar minimum; solar maximum

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6 comments

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tadchem
3 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2014
A new 'Maunder Minimum' maybe?
Benni
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 17, 2014
.....but don't worry about this affecting weather patterns on earth, only man can do that, but it will very likely affect weather patterns on other planets.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (4) Jun 22, 2014
This is blasphemy to the AGW Cult's Scientology.
thermodynamics
4 / 5 (6) Jun 22, 2014
This is blasphemy to the AGW Cult's Scientology.


Maybe you can explain how this is blasphemy? It seems like it is only hyperbole from you. Can you give us a reference that shows this to be blasphemy to those who understand AGW?
antigoracle
1 / 5 (4) Jun 22, 2014
I guess you haven't read your cult's doctrine.
Ch1 v1 - It's not the Sun, stupid.
thermodynamics
4 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2014
I guess you haven't read your cult's doctrine.
Ch1 v1 - It's not the Sun, stupid.


Again, please show me where that is said, stupid. What you have been shown if you could read anything technical is that changes in the sun are not important drivers right now. Instead, CO2 is the dominant driver right now. You are clearly too stupid to notice that. Please show me the reference to the comment that says it is not the sun, stupid. It is always the sun and its interactions with the planet. We just happen to be adding CO2 to the atmosphere of the planet, stupid. If you knew how to calculate radiant heat transfer you could see the effect of the CO2 yourself. You are an incomparable moron.

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