Variations in sunspot position

Variations in sunspot position - magnetic fieldhe magnetic...

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Variations in sunspot position: Besides variations in numbers sunspots are seen also to vary in a number of other ways. When a solar cycle starts, after a minimum, they usually are seen at higher latitudes than later in the cycle. They then increase in number and appear nearer the equator. The result is that pattern of appearance is that of the well-known "butterfly diagram" shown here: When studied in detail the sunspots are seen to each have a magnetic polarity and to tend to occur in pairs of opposite polarity. It seems that the magnetic field exits from one and curves over and disappears into the other (i.e the sunspots represent the ends of a magnetic loop coming from the sun's surface). When the polarities of the sunspots is studies (we can measure the
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Unformatted text preview: magnetic fieldhe magnetic fields remotely because of the Zeeman effect - the magnetic splitting of emission lines) we find that in one hemisphere all the "leading" spots of a pair tend to have the same polarity. What is more, the "leading" spots in the other hemisphere (ie the other side of the equator) tend to have the opposite polarity. In the following solar cycle, the polarities swap round. That is we have a situation like this: where the left hand diagram represents the situation in one solar cycle and the right hand diagram the situation in the next. Thus we can, in some senses talk of a solar cycle being 22 years rather than 11, since it takes that long for the polarities to go back to their original senses....
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Variations in sunspot position - magnetic fieldhe magnetic...

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