The Sun in the News ...





Sun experiences seasonal changes, new research finds   PhysOrg - April 7, 2015
The Sun undergoes a type of seasonal variability with its activity waxing and waning over the course of nearly two years, according to a new study by a team of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). This behavior affects the peaks and valleys in the approximately 11-year solar cycle, sometimes amplifying and sometimes weakening the solar storms that can buffet Earth's atmosphere. The quasi-annual variations appear to be driven by changes in the bands of strong magnetic fields in each solar hemisphere. These bands also help shape the approximately 11-year solar cycle that is part of a longer cycle that lasts about 22 years.




Solar Storm March 17-18, 2015

Produced these stunning auroras - From Spaceweather



Vallentuna, Sweden 30 kilometers north of Stockholm  
APOD - March 19, 2015

Crystalinks Auroras




  The difference between CMEs and solar flares   PhysOrg - September 23, 2014

CMEs are giant clouds of particles from the Sun hurled out into space, while flares are flashes of light occurring in various wavelengths on the Sun.




Video: Sun has 'flipped upside down' as new magnetic cycle begins   Independent - December 30, 2013

The sun's magnetic field has fully reversed its polarity, marking the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, which will be completed in 11 years.




Researchers find giant convection cells on the Sun   Science Daily - December 6, 2013

A trio of researchers has found the elusive giant convection cells suspected for nearly a half century to exist on and within the sun. The team describes how they used data from a NASA observatory that captured solar information every 45 seconds over a several month period which allowed the researchers to track the slow movement of the giant cells.




Tilted suns   PhysOrg - November 4, 2013

The Earth's axis of rotation is tilted 23.4 degrees to its orbital motion around the Sun (more precisely, its spin axis has a tilt of 23.4 degrees with respect to the axis of its orbit). This tilt, which causes our seasonal variations, was likely the result of a cataclysmic impact that occurred about 4.5 billion years ago between the Earth and another large body which probably also resulted in the formation of the moon. Such a large tilt is thought in general to result from a strong interaction between objects like the collision that formed the moon. Stars also spin, and their spin axes can also be tilted with respect to the orbits of their planets. In the case of our Sun, which spins roughly once every twenty-five days, its tilt is only 7.25 degrees, and so we never get a very good look at its north or south poles. Astronomers infer therefore that the Sun never had a traumatic encounter with another star (at least not since its planetary system formed, and at least not with a sudden collision).




Astronomers Find Clues to Decades-Long Coronal Heating Mystery   Science Daily - October 15, 2013

Drs. Michael Hahn and Daniel Wolf Savin, research scientists at Columbia University's Astrophysics Laboratory in New York, NY, found evidence that magnetic waves in a polar coronal hole contain enough energy to heat the corona and moreover that they also deposit most of their energy at sufficiently low heights for the heat to spread throughout the corona. The observations help to answer a 70-year-old solar physics conundrum about the unexplained extreme temperature of the Sun's corona -- known as the coronal heating problem.




Coronal Hole - Spaceweather.com - August 14, 2013

A coronal hole has formed in the sun's northern hemisphere, and it is spewing solar wind into space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the UV-dark gap during the early hours of August 14th. In the image, the sun's magnetic field is traced by white curving lines. The coronal hole is where those magnetic field lines have opened up, allowing solar wind to escape. A stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole is expected to reach Earth on August 16-18. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the windy stream arrives.

Coronal holes are areas where the Sun's corona is darker, colder, and has lower-density plasma than average. These were found when X-ray telescopes in the Skylab mission were flown above the Earth's atmosphere to reveal the structure of the corona. Coronal holes are linked to unipolar concentrations of open magnetic field lines. During solar minimum, coronal holes are mainly found at the Sun's polar regions, but they can be located anywhere on the sun during solar maximum. The fast-moving component of the solar wind is known to travel along open magnetic field lines that pass through coronal holes.




Doomsday Fear: Could an EMP Throw World into Chaos?   Live Science - August 14, 2013

An electromagnetic surge from a solar storm is a more likely threat for an EMP. Generally, experts expect a bad solar storm to reach Earth about once every century. The last time one hit the planet was during the Carrington event, when particles from a powerful coronal mass ejection overloaded telegraph wires and set paper messages on fire in 1859. A coronal mass ejection is an enormous sun eruption of super-hot plasma that spews charged particles across the solar system. At that time, the world was just beginning to use widespread electronic communications. Baker and his colleagues just submitted a paper that details a coronal mass ejection that took place in July 2012. In that event, some 80 billion pounds of energized particles were ejected from the sun at a speed of several million miles per hour. Luckily it missed Earth. But if it had occurred one week earlier, it would have been aimed directly toward our planet - with catastrophic results.




Sun's Magnetic Field Flip Won't Doom Earth, Scientists Say   Live Science - August 8, 2013

We have nothing to fear from the big change that is about to occur on the sun, researchers stress. The sun's magnetic field is set to reverse its polarity in the next few months. But the shift won't spark an increase in powerful solar storms or other events that could have a damaging effect on Earth and its inhabitants, researchers say.




The Sun's Magnetic Field is about to Flip   NASA - August 5, 2013

Something big is about to happen on the sun. According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun's vast magnetic field is about to flip. Observatories show that the sun's global magnetic field will flip before the end of 2013. The reversal, which signals the arrival of Solar Maximum, will have ripple effects felt throughout the solar system. The sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle. A reversal of the sun's magnetic field is, literally, a big event. The domain of the sun's magnetic influence (also known as the "heliosphere") extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space.




Solar Flares Fire Off Antimatter Particles   Live Science - July 9, 2013

Astronomers have detected exotic antimatter particles flying from the sun during solar flares - a discovery that could help scientists understand this mysterious sibling to matter. Solar flares were predicted to release some antimatter particles among the deluge of charged particles spat out during these eruptions. But this is the first time researchers have observed antimatter coming from the sun. Antimatter particles have the same mass and other characteristics as their regular-matter counterparts, but they have opposite charge. When the universe was born about 13.8 billion years ago in the Big Bang, there was probably about as much matter as antimatter, scientists think. Somehow, collisions with matter destroyed most of the antimatter (when matter and antimatter meet, they annihilate), leaving a slight surplus of matter, which became the planets, stars and galaxies in our universe.




Sun's Magnetic 'Heartbeat' Revealed   Live Science - April 4, 2013

A magnetic "solar heartbeat" beats deep in the sun's interior, generating energy that leads to solar flares and sunspots, according to new research. A new supercomputer simulation, described in the April 4 edition of the journal Science, probes the sun's periodic magnetic field reversals. Every 40 years, according to the model, the sun's zonal magnetic field bands switch their orientation, or polarity. That cycle is about four times longer than the 11-year sunspot cycle that governs the level of solar activity. Being able to model such a regular, long-term process is remarkable, the scientists said.




Sunspots Can Now Be Predicted Days in Advance   National Geographic - August 19, 2011
Sound waves from deep inside the sun can allow astronomers to predict the appearance of sunspots days in advance - possibly leading to better forecasts of hazardous solar storms, a new study says.




Dim Sun Helped Send Earth into Little Ice Age, Study Suggests   Live Science - June 7, 2011
A dearth of bright spots on the sun might have contributed to a frigid period known as the "little ice age" in the middle of the past millennium, researchers suggest. From the 1500s to the 1800s, much of Europe and North America were plunged into what came to be called the little ice age. The coolest part of this cold spell coincided with a 75-year period beginning in 1645 when astronomers detected almost no sunspots on the sun, a time now referred to as the Maunder Minimum.




  First ever STEREO images of the entire Sun   PhysOrg - February 7, 2011

On Feb. 6th, NASA's twin STEREO probes moved into position on opposite sides of the sun, and they are now beaming back uninterrupted images of the entire star -- front and back. "For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full 3-dimensional glory," says Angelos Vourlidas, a member of the STEREO science team at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC.




New images show cloud exploding from Sun ripples like clouds on Earth   PhysOrg - February 4, 2011

Physicists, led by a researcher at the University of Warwick, studying new images of clouds of material exploding from the Sun have spotted instabilities forming in that exploding cloud that are similar to those seen in clouds in Earth's atmosphere.




Hole in the Sun   APOD - August 28, 2010

This ominous, dark shape sprawling across the face of the Sun is a coronal hole -- a low density region extending above the surface where the solar magnetic field opens freely into interplanetary space. Studied extensively from space since the 1960s in ultraviolet and x-ray light, coronal holes are known to be the source of the high-speed solar wind, atoms and electrons which flow outward along the open magnetic field lines. During periods of low activity, coronal holes typically cover regions just above the Sun's poles. But this extensive coronal hole dominated the Sun's northern hemisphere earlier this week, captured here in extreme ultraviolet light by cameras onboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The solar wind streaming from this coronal hole triggered auroral displays on planet Earth.




Oldest Material in Solar System Found   National Geographic - August 23, 2010
Discovery suggests exploding star kick-started our sun. Pea-size minerals inside a meteorite are the oldest known material in the solar system, a new study says. At 4,568.2 million years old, the minerals push back the birth of the solar system by as much as two million years - and suggests that an exploding star injected key materials into our system as it was being born, researchers say.




  Music of the sun recorded by scientists   Telegraph.co.uk - June 21, 2010

The sun has been the inspiration for hundreds of songs, but now scientists have discovered that the star at the centre of our solar system produces its own music. Astronomers at the University of Sheffield have managed to record for the first time the eerie musical harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun. They found that huge magnetic loops that have been observed coiling away from the outer layer of the sun's atmosphere, known as coronal loops, vibrate like strings on a musical instrument.




'   New Space Telescope Delivers First Mind-Blowing Video of the Sun   Wired - April 21, 2010

  Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory returns first images   BBC - April 22, 2010

NASA Solar Observatory's First Shots - Sun Gets in the Loop   National Geographic - April 22, 2010
A huge loop of material shooting up from the sun's surface in March was one of the first events witnessed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Known as a prominence eruption, the loop was born from a relatively cold cloud of plasma, or charged gas, tenuously tethered to the sun's surface by magnetic forces. Such clouds can erupt dramatically when they break free of the sun's unstable hold.




Eclipses Yield First Images of Elusive Iron Line in Solar Corona   PhysOrg - January 4, 2010




Eclipses Yield First Images of Elusive Iron Line in Solar Corona   PhysOrg - January 4, 2010

These images of the solar corona are color overlays of the emission from highly ionized iron lines for the 2006 eclipse (left column) and 2008 eclipse (right column), with white-light images added in the bottom row. Red indicates iron line Fe XI 789.2 nm, blue represents iron line Fe XIII 1074.7 nm, and green shows iron line Fe XIV 530.3 nm. These are the first such maps of the 2-D distribution of coronal electron temperature and ion charge state.




Close-Up Photos of Dying Star Show Our Sun's Fate   Science Daily - December 17, 2009

About 550 light-years from Earth, a star like our Sun is writhing in its death throes. Chi Cygni has swollen in size to become a red giant star so large that it would swallow every planet out to Mars in our solar system. Moreover, it has begun to pulse dramatically in and out, beating like a giant heart. New close-up photos of the surface of this distant star show its throbbing motions in unprecedented detail. As a sunlike star ages, it begins to run out of hydrogen fuel at its core. Like a car running out of gas, its "engine" begins to splutter. On Chi Cygni, we see those splutterings as a brightening and dimming, caused by the star's contraction and expansion. Stars at this life stage are known as Mira variables after the first such example, Mira "the Wonderful," discovered by David Fabricius in 1596. As it pulses, the star is puffing off its outer layers, which in a few hundred thousand years will create a beautifully gleaming planetary nebula.




Solar Cycle Driven by More than Sunspots   PhysOrg - September 17, 2009
When the solar cycle was at a minimum level in 1996, the Sun sprayed Earth with relatively few, weak high-speed streams containing turbulent magnetic fields. In contrast, the Sun bombarded Earth with stronger and longer-lasting streams last year even though the solar cycle was again at a minimum level. The streams affected Earth's outer radiation belt, posing a threat to earth-orbiting satellites, and triggered space weather disturbances, lighting up auroras in the sky at higher latitudes.




Sunspots Revealed In Striking Detail By Supercomputers   Science Daily - June 22, 2009

In a breakthrough that will help scientists unlock mysteries of the Sun and its impacts on Earth, an international team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has created the first-ever comprehensive computer model of sunspots. The resulting visuals capture both scientific detail and remarkable beauty.




Analemma Over the Porch of Maidens NASA - December 21, 2008

The shape traced out by the Sun over the course of a year is called an Analemma.




Strange Portal Connects Earth to Sun Space.com - November 3, 2008
Like giant, cosmic chutes between the Earth and sun, magnetic portals open up every eight minutes or so to connect our planet with its host star. Once the portals open, loads of high-energy particles can travel the 93 million miles (150 million km) through the conduit during its brief opening, space scientists say. Called a flux transfer event, such cosmic connections not only exist but are possibly twice as common as anyone ever imagined.




Visions of Sun's great 'belches' BBC - April 15, 2008
Here's a strange scenario: You move farther away from a fire, getting cooler and cooler, until suddenly you are burning up. That's essentially what happens in the sun: Its outer layer, the corona, is inexplicably hot. A new study may complicate things further by poking holes in a leading theory that aims to account for the puzzling phenomenon.




New Kink in Sun's Strange Corona Space.com - March 24, 2008
Here's a strange scenario: You move farther away from a fire, getting cooler and cooler, until suddenly you are burning up. That's essentially what happens in the sun: Its outer layer, the corona, is inexplicably hot. A new study may complicate things further by poking holes in a leading theory that aims to account for the puzzling phenomenon.




Sun's Magnetic Secret Revealed Space.com - January 22, 2008
Powerful magnetic waves have been confirmed for the first time as major players in the process that makes the sun's atmosphere strangely hundreds of times hotter than its already superhot surface. The magnetic waves - called Alfven waves - can carry enough energy from the sun's active surface to heat its atmosphere, or corona. The surface and corona are chock full of these things, and they're very energetic.




Solar Tornadoes Thunderbolts - June 15, 2007

Sunspots are strange blemishes on the face of the Sun that offer some of the strongest evidence against the Sun being powered internally. They are conventionally described as being a result of strong magnetic fields pinching off the convection of heat from inside the Sun before it can reach the surface. The electric star interpretation is that sunspots are breaks in the hot surface of the sun, through which we can get a glimpse of the underlying layers. To satisfy the standard theory, these deeper layers of the Sun should be hotter to drive the so-called vigorous convection. But they aren't. The dark center of the sunspot, or umbra, is 20% cooler than the rest of the surface of the Sun. The outer shadow of the sunspot, or penumbra, and the structure and behavior of the filaments that form the penumbra are also too complex to be explained by standard stellar theory.




Mysterious Solar Ripples Detected For The First Time Space.com - December 30, 2007

Mysterious waves that help transport the sun's energy out into space have been detected by scientists for the first time. Researchers hope their discovery of the energetic ripples, known as Alfvan waves, will shed light on other solar phenomena such as the sun's magnetic fields and its super-hot corona, or outermost atmosphere. A new video shows the ripples in action.




Scientists Confirm Long-held Theory About Source Of Sunshine Science Daily - August 21, 2007
A monumental experiment buried deep beneath the mountains of Italy has provided Princeton physicists with a clearer understanding of the sun's heart -- and of a mysterious class of subatomic particles born there. In stars the size of the sun, most solar energy is produced by a complex chain of nuclear reactions that converts hydrogen into helium. Beginning with protons from hydrogen's nucleus, the chain takes one of several routes that all end with the creation of a helium nucleus and the production of sunlight. Steps along two of these routes require the presence of the element beryllium, and physicists have theorized that these steps are responsible for creating about 10 percent of the sun's neutrinos. But technological limitations had made the theory difficult to test until now.




Solar Tornadoes Thunderbolts - June 15, 2007

Sunspots are strange blemishes on the face of the Sun that offer some of the strongest evidence against the Sun being powered internally. They are conventionally described as being a result of strong magnetic fields pinching off the convection of heat from inside the Sun before it can reach the surface. The electric star interpretation is that sunspots are breaks in the hot surface of the sun, through which we can get a glimpse of the underlying layers. To satisfy the standard theory, these deeper layers of the Sun should be hotter to drive the so-called vigorous convection. But they aren't. The dark center of the sunspot, or umbra, is 20% cooler than the rest of the surface of the Sun. The outer shadow of the sunspot, or penumbra, and the structure and behavior of the filaments that form the penumbra are also too complex to be explained by standard stellar theory.




Sun's "Ring of Fire" Stoked by Sound Waves National Geographic - May 31, 2007
It has been a burning mystery for decades: Why is a thin, irregular region of the sun's atmosphere known as the chromosphere much hotter than the star's visible surface? The answer, scientists recently proposed, could be stellar sound. Magnetic fields send sound waves from the sun's interior shooting upward, creating fountains of hot gas that shape and power the chromosphere.




Harnessing the Power of the Sun SETI - April 20, 2007
Science, even by reputable practitioners, proceeds in fits, starts, and frequent excursions down blind alleys. As example, in 1877 astronomers on both sides of the Atlantic observed things about Mars that had the potential for making SETI a done deal, a fait accompli.




  A Massive Explosion on the Sun (Cool movie) NASA - April 24, 2007




First 3-D Images of Sun Unveiled National Geographic - April 24, 2007




The Sun in Three Dimensions APOD - April 24, 2007


New Phenomena on the Sun + Video NASA - March 22, 2007

A magnetic vortex almost as big as Earth




Telescope imaged million-degree gas spiraling up from sunspots MSNBC - March 21, 2007

Like cosmic rubber bands, twisted magnetic structures along the sunÕs surface can release massive amounts of energy when relaxed. The discharge could be the hidden source that heats up the atmosphere of the sun. While the sunÕs surface is a steamy 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,538 degrees Celsius), gas floating above in the so-called corona soars to more than 100 times hotter. Astronomers have long puzzled over the source of the coronaÕs heat.





Sunspot 930 announced itself on Dec. 5th with one of the strongest flares in years--an X9, followed by an X6 on Dec. 6th, an X3 on Dec. 13th and an X1 on Dec. 14th. - Space Weather.com

A Large Tsunami Shock Wave on the Sun (Animation) NASA - December 13, 2006
Tsunamis this large don't happen on Earth. One week ago, a large solar flare from an Earth-sized sunspot produced a tsunami-type shock wave that was spectacular even for the Sun. Pictured above, the tsunami wave was captured moving out from active region AR 10930 by the Optical Solar Patrol Network (OSPAN) telescope in New Mexico, USA. The resulting shock wave, known technically as a Moreton wave, compressed and heated up gasses including hydrogen in the photosphere of the Sun, causing a momentarily brighter glow. The above image was taken in a very specific red color emitted exclusively by hydrogen gas. The rampaging tsunami took out some active filaments on the Sun, although many re-established themselves later. The solar tsunami spread at nearly one million kilometers per hour, and circled the entire Sun in a matter of minutes.




Sunspot Penumbra Shock Astrophysicists Thunderbolts - April 18, 2006

Textbook theory of sunspot activity faces new difficulties posed by the magnetically confined structures of the penumbra. The old idea that the penumbra filaments are convection currents must now give way to new evidence that electric currents dominate these solar structures.




Sun's Changes to Blame for Part of Global Warming Live Science - October 1, 2005
Increased output from the Sun might be to blame for 10 to 30 percent of global warming that has been measured in the past 20 years, according to a new report. Increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases still play a role, the scientists say.




NASA's Chandra Neon Discovery Solves Solar Paradox Science Daily - July 29, 2005

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory survey of nearby sun-like stars suggests there is nearly three times more neon in the sun and local universe than previously believed. If true, this would solve a critical problem with understanding how the sun works.




Deep Roots Of Solar Wind Help Predict Space Weather Across Solar System Science Daily - May 25, 2005

A layer deep in the solar atmosphere can be used to estimate the speed of the solar wind, a stream of electrified gas that constantly blows from the Sun. Estimating the speed of the solar wind will improve space weather forecasts, enhancing our ability to protect communications, navigation, and other satellites from the effects of solar storms. We will also be able to warn human explorers on their way to the planets of the severity of those storms.




Solar Outbursts Protected Early Earth Scientific American May 11, 2005

The early sun produced powerful x-ray emissions that may have helped to ensure the survival of our planet, scientists say. Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggest that violent x-ray flares, which reached temperatures of 100 million kelvins, may have rocked the surrounding disk from which planets formed and prevented Earth from rapidly spiraling into the sun and being destroyed.




Heavenly signs that scared Roman rulers help astronomers study the Sun Astronomy Magazine - May 13, 2005
In 200 B.C., authorities of the Roman Republic recorded such events with the enthusiasm of a modern tabloid. While these omens cataloged by ancient historians won't tell us much about heaven's wrath, astronomers say they form an indirect record of what the Sun was doing 2,000 years ago. The work of Roman historian Titus Livius (Livy, in English), who lived from 59 B.C. Š A.D. 17, formed the basis of both studies. Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, written in the time of the first emperors, chronicles Rome's history with the help of written records dating back hundreds of years. Many times, he reports how Romans interpreted natural events as warnings that something was amiss in the relationship between the state and its gods.




Solar Flares and Astronauts NASA - January 27, 2005

On January 20th, 2005, a giant sunspot named "NOAA 720" exploded. The blast sparked an X-class solar flare, the most powerful kind, and hurled a billion-ton cloud of electrified gas (a "coronal mass ejection") into space. Solar protons accelerated to nearly light speed by the explosion reached the Earth-Moon system minutes after the flare the beginning of a days-long "proton storm."




Solar 'Tadpoles' - Dark Shadows During Solar Flares - Explained Space.com - March 4, 2005

For several years, scientists who study the sun have been intrigued by this mysterious phenomenon. Dr Valery Nakariakov and Dr Erwin Verwichte analysed observations obtained with NASA's "Transition Region And Coronal Explorer" (TRACE) space mission. They theorize that the wiggles of the tadpoles' tails are earth-sized waves similar to the waves in a flag blown by the wind. They think that the waves are produced by a phenomenon known as "negative energy waves"; waves pull energy from the medium they propagate through. The "tadpoles" are optical illusions, rather than real physical structures; the apparently descending tadpole head marks the falling start point of the matter's upward acceleration




Solar Flares and Astronauts NASA - January 27, 2005

On January 20th, 2005, a giant sunspot named "NOAA 720" exploded. The blast sparked an X-class solar flare, the most powerful kind, and hurled a billion-ton cloud of electrified gas (a "coronal mass ejection") into space. Solar protons accelerated to nearly light speed by the explosion reached the Earth-Moon system minutes after the flare--the beginning of a days-long "proton storm." Here on Earth, no one suffered. Our planet's thick atmosphere and magnetic field protects us from protons and other forms of solar radiation. In fact, the storm was good. When the plodding coronal mass ejection arrived 36 hours later and hit Earth's magnetic field, sky watchers in Europe saw the brightest and prettiest auroras in years.




The Sun Is More Active Now Than Over The Last 8000 Years Science Daily - November 1, 2004

The activity of the Sun over the last 11,400 years, i.e., back to the end of the last ice age on Earth, has now for the first time been reconstructed quantitatively by an international group of researchers led by Sami K. Solanki from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany). The scientists have analyzed the radioactive isotopes in trees that lived thousands of years ago. As the scientists from Germany, Finland, and Switzerland report in the current issue of the science journal "Nature" from October 28, one needs to go back over 8,000 years in order to find a time when the Sun was, on average, as active as in the last 60 years. Based on a statistical study of earlier periods of increased solar activity, the researchers predict that the current level of high solar activity will probably continue only for a few more decades.




How Strongly Does The Sun Influence The Global Climate? Science Daily - August 2004
Since the middle of the last century, the Sun is in a phase of unusually high activity, as indicated by frequent occurrences of sunspots, gas eruptions, and radiation storms. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Katlenburg-Lindau (Germany) and at the University of Oulu (Finland) have come to this conclusion after they have succeeded in reconstructing the solar activity based on the sunspot frequency since 850 AD. To this end, they have combined historical sunspot records with measurements of the frequency of radioactive isotopes in ice cores from Greenland and the Antarctic. As the scientists have reported in the renowned scientific journal, Physical Review Letters, since 1940 the mean sunspot number is higher than it has ever been in the last thousand years and two and a half times higher than the long term average. The temporal variation in the solar activity displays a similarity to that of the mean temperature of the Earth.




Sunspots reaching 1,000-year high BBC - July 2004
A new analysis shows that the Sun is more active now than it has been at anytime in the previous 1,000 years. Scientists based at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich used ice cores from Greenland to construct a picture of our star's activity in the past. They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth's climate became steadily warmer. The warming is being amplified by gases from fossil fuel burning, they argue. Sunspots have been monitored on the Sun since 1610, shortly after the invention of the telescope. They provide the longest-running direct measurement of our star's activity. The variation in sunspot numbers has revealed the Sun's 11-year cycle of activity as well as other, longer-term changes. In particular, it has been noted that between about 1645 and 1715, few sunspots were seen on the Sun's surface. This period is called the Maunder Minimum after the English astronomer who studied it.




A Green Flash from the Sun NASA - April 2004

Many think it is just a myth. Others think it is true but its cause isn't known. Adventurers pride themselves on having seen it. It's a green flash from the Sun. The truth is the green flash does exist and its cause is well understood. Just as the setting Sun disappears completely from view, a last glimmer appears startlingly green. The effect is typically visible only from locations with a low, distant horizon, and lasts just a few seconds. A green flash is also visible for a rising Sun, but takes better timing to spot. A dramatic green flash was caught in the above photograph in 1992 from Finland. The Sun itself does not turn partly green, the effect is caused by layers of the Earth's atmosphere acting like a prism.




A Green Flash from the Sun   NASA - March 21, 2004

Many think it is just a myth. Others think it is true but its cause isn't known. Adventurers pride themselves on having seen it. It's a green flash from the Sun. The truth is the green flash does exist and its cause is well understood. Just as the setting Sun disappears completely from view, a last glimmer appears startlingly green. The effect is typically visible only from locations with a low, distant horizon, and lasts just a few seconds. A green flash is also visible for a rising Sun, but takes better timing to spot. A dramatic green flash was caught in the above photograph in 1992 from Finland. The Sun itself does not turn partly green, the effect is caused by layers of the Earth's atmosphere acting like a prism.




Sun 'sheds its skin like a snake' BBC - November 24, 2003

Astronomers have discovered a key fact required to understand the Sun's 11-year cycle of activity. Sunspots and flares on the Sun's surface follow the cycle, but expelled gas clouds do not. It seems that these ejections trail the sunspot peak - they peaked in 2002, two years after sunspots. The expelled gas takes away the Sun's old magnetic skin allowing a new one to emerge to start a new cycle.




Huge rock-ice body circles Sun BBC - November 17, 2003

Astronomers have found a large object orbiting the Sun near Neptune's orbit. It was discovered on Friday by an automated sky survey project designed to search for threatening asteroids that may be on an Earth impact course. The object is about 570 km across, making it one of the largest bodies of its kind found in modern times. The new body, made of rock and ice, is designated 2003 VS2. Re-examining past records, astronomers have found it in images taken as far back as 1998.




Solar flare 'reproduced' in lab BBC - November 11, 2003

Scientists have simulated a solar flare in the lab, recreating the super-heated cloud of electrically-charged gas seen on the Sun known as a plasma. It was part of an initiative to develop fusion power - the nuclear energy that keeps the Sun shining. The plasma in the lab behaved like a miniature version of a solar flare. Scientists hope they can create a flare at low energies in the lab, to enable them to study the explosive events that take place on the Sun's surface.




The Sun


Currner Solar Activity - NOAA




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