Sunspots

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Sunspots

Our Sun continuously converts hydrogen into helium and with this process it provides the essentials for life processes. In doing this it controls “our climate, provides light, raises tides, and drives the food chain” (Schaefer 34). Our Sun also has influenced many beliefs now and in the past. History has documented Sun worshipping religions while many current societies use solar calendars (Schaefer 34).

Because the Sun is so influential, imperfections of the Sun, such as sunspots will continue to impact life on Earth. The discovery of sunspots is correlated with the invention of the telescope in 1608, although there are earlier recordings of sunspot like activity from China (Schaefer 35). Galileo was one of the astronomers who decided to publish his findings and use sunspots in one of his theories of Chief World Systems (Schaefer 35-6).

Today many patterns including real estate sales to fluctuations in the climate have been attributed to the cycle of sunspots. These fluctuations may be an explanation of the decline of Sun worship in India due the increased sunspot activity during the time of the Medieval Maximum. Throughtout history these fluctuations have been omens (e.g. a slave revolutionists incited a riot when he interpreted the site of a large black area on the Sun as the black taking over the white) (Schaefer 38). There are also modern examples of solar fluctuations affecting the Earth like the delayed launch of the Hubble Telescope (Schaefer 38) and the disruptions in electrical and radio technology during solar flares due to increased activity of sunspots at the last solar maximum in 1989.

Sunspots are the most apparent features on the Sun’s surface or photosphere. Anyone could use a filter such as a welder’s helmet to observe groups of sunspots. A sunspot consists of two regions, the umbra and the penumbra. The temperature of the umbra can be as low as 4,000 K and the penumbra that surrounds the umbra has a temperature of about 5,500 K which contrasts to the photospheric temperature of 6,000 K. The difference in temperatures makes the sunspots appear dark against the brightness of the

photosphere (Nicolson 123).

A sunspot’s average size is comparable with the Earth. They form in regions of concentrated magnetic fields. These fields hamper the flow of energyn to the affected area. The magnetic fields on...

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This project will hopefully enable scientists to learn more about sunspots and

other properties of the Sun.

Understanding more about sunspots, their cycle, radiation, and magnetic properties will facilitate scientists to unlock the mysterious workings of the Sun. With today’s technology this understanding will come more quickly. Knowledge of sunspots may lead us to be able to predict when solar activity could affect the Earth like it did during the solar max in 1989. Information like this could eventually allow us to be able to protect ourselves from solar radiation.

Works Cited

“Analyzing Variation in the Sun’s Radiation”. USA Today. 26 2637 (1998) : 11-12.

Nehru, K.V.K. Glimpses Into the Structure of the Sun—Part 1 The Nature of Stellar Matter. March 22, 2001. .

Nehru, K.V.K. Glimpses Into the Structure of the Sun—Part 2 The Solar Interior and the Sunspot. March 22, 2001.

Nicolson, Iain. Unfolding Our Universe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 123-4; 276+

Philips, Tony Dr. “The Sun Does a Flip.” SpaceScience. Feb. 15, 2001. March 19, 2001. .

Schaefer, Bradley E. “Sunspots that changed the World.” Sky & Telescope. 93.4 (1997). 34-38.

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