Stories

The sun's surface isn't as tranquil as scientists thought

NASA / SDO

Every 11 years, the sun's magnetic poles flip, in the process forming sunspots and violent eruptions from the surface that can have an impact on Earth. Two new studies provide insights into the cycle, the NY Times notes.

  • One study, published in Science, found that the cycle is similar to those of other solar-type stars. The authors looked at 25 similar stars and found that "a star's activity cycle depended on two factors: luminosity and rotation."
  • Another study, published in Science Advances, found that sun's seemingly quiet outer layer, known as the corona, is active. "At solar minimum, the quiet corona measures around 1.4 million degrees Celsius. But at solar maximum it jumps to around 1.8 million degrees."
  • Why it matters: The sun's magnetic activity can affect us on earth, from interfering with satellites to hampering the power grid, and the more scientists know the better they'll be able to predict solar activity.