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Surfin’: See Spot Sun

03/04/2011

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ now knows why there was a dearth of sunspots for two years.

 

 

Based on a new computer model of the Sun’s interior, scientists have concluded that “plasma currents deep inside the Sun interfered with the formation of sunspots and prolonged solar minimum.”

The March 3 edition of Nature expands on the conclusions, while the NASA website proffers Dr Tony Phillips’ article “Researchers Crack the Mystery of the Spotless Sun” on the matter.

Besides messing with radio propagation, the lack of sunspots (a 100-year low) caused the Earth’s upper atmosphere to cool and collapse, the Sun’s magnetic field to weaken and permitted cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system in record numbers.

Interestingly, while sunspot maximum “is relatively brief, lasting a few years,” the sunspot “minimum can grind on for many years. The famous Maunder Minimum of the 17th century lasted 70 years and coincided with the deepest part of Europe’s Little Ice Age. Researchers are still struggling to understand the connection.”

“One thing is clear: During long minima, strange things happen.” And the article goes on to enumerate those unusual events like, for example, “space junk stopped decaying as rapidly as usual and started accumulating in Earth orbit.”

Thank you Gabriel Marcus, AJ4AD, for alerting the Surfin’ desk about this news.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: On Tuesday, Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, completes his 60th trip around the Sun. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.

 

 



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