Sunday, March 6, 2011

NASA-Sponsored Research Explains Missing Sunspots 

WASHINGTON -- NASA-sponsored research has resulted in the first computer model that explains the recent period of decreased solar activity during the sun's 11-year cycle. 

This recent solar minimum, a period characterized by a lower frequency of sunspots and solar storms, was the deepest observed in almost 100 years. The solar minimum has repercussions on the safety of space travel and the amount of orbital debris our planet accumulates. 

Solar scientists around the world were puzzled by the extended disappearance of sunspots in 2008-2009. Results published in Thursday's edition of Nature indicate the mystery may be solved. 

"Plasma currents deep inside the sun interfered with the formation of sunspots and prolonged the solar minimum," says lead author Dibyendu Nandi of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata.


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