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  solar activity cycle
  where do sunspots appear?
  can sunspots harm us?

solar activity cycle


Does it matter that the number of sunspots goes through an 11 year cycle? Yes, because lots of things on the Sun also go through the same cycle. Solar flares, prominences and coronal mass ejections all show the same cycle as sunspots. This is not surprising because sunspots appear in regions on the Sun where lots of other activity also occurs.


Suns Radiation


Take a look at these two pictures. The picture on the left shows the X-ray radiation from the Sun. The picture on the right is a normal visible light photograph. See how the bright parts in the X-ray image, called active regions, correspond to the places where the sunspots are. To see the movie that these pictures were captured from click on the movie option to the right.

You can see more movies in our Gallery
[Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]

The picture shows how the solar activity (in this case, the X-ray brightness of the corona) changes during the solar cycle. The image on the far right was taken at solar minimum and the other images were taken at 6-monthly intervals up until solar maximum, shown in the front image to the left.

X-ray of Corona

Up Arrow The front left hand image shows solar maximum


Ultravoilet Sun


The Sun also looks very different in the ultraviolet at solar minimum (1996) (left hand side) and solar maximum (1999) (right hand side). Just see how many active regions there were in 1999!

You can see more movies in our Gallery
[Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]



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