Feeds

Scientists crack spotless Sun mystery

Temperamental conveyor belt to blame for deep solar minimum

Security for virtualized datacentres

Scientists reckon they've cracked the mystery as to why during 2008-2009, the Sun was completely devoid of sunspots for almost two years.

This deepest solar minimum in a century, marking the end of sunspot cycle 23, saw the Sun's global magnetic field and solar wind weaken, allowing dangerous cosmic rays to sweep the inner solar system.

Graph of sunspot cycles over the last century. Pic: Dibyendu Nandi et al

It also prompted a cooling and collapse of Earth's upper atmosphere in the absence of the UV ray heating normally provided by sunspot activity.

"Space junk stopped decaying as rapidly as usual and started accumulating in Earth orbit," NASA explains.

Just why the Sun went quiet for so long has until now had boffins scratching their heads, but a team led by Dibyendu Nandi of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata says it has the answer.

Nandi declared: "Plasma currents deep inside the sun interfered with the formation of sunspots and prolonged solar minimum. Our conclusions are based on a new computer model of the sun's interior."

Cutaway graphic of the Sun showing the Great Conveyor Belt. Pic: Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo

The crux of the matter is the behaviour of the "Great Conveyor Belt", represented in the above graphic as black arrowed loops.

Security for virtualized datacentres

Next page: Bootnote

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
LOHAN invites ENTIRE REG READERSHIP to New Mexico shindig
Well, those of you who back our Kickstarter tin-rattling...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.