How do sunspots actually appear and is it still a mystery?

this is the main message area for anything solar :)
Post Reply
Ohhhhhh My!
Ohhhhhh My!
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue May 23, 2023 6:55 am
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 91 times

How do sunspots actually appear and is it still a mystery?

Post by Solarscout »

Reading from The Sun: A Very Short Introduction by Philip Judge it appears that there are still unanswered questions. Page 69 -70

"When viewing from the birth of sunspots, they seem to emerge, essentially complete, from within the solar interior. But is there firm evidence that they do actually emerge from beneath the surface? They appear in pairs of north and south magnetic poles as if they are places where sea-serpent-like magnetic structures emerge from beneath. The alternatives could be that they are assembled in the surface somehow, or that they come from above the surface. But there is no sign of surface flows that suggest assembly in place (in fact the opposite is generally seen), and there is not enough magnetic energy in the overlying atmosphere to build a sunspot from above. Direct evidence of emergence has recently been seen using helioseismology, where blurry indicators of emerging objects have been tracked directly under the surface where a spot later appears."

User avatar
Posts: 35127
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:25 pm
Location: Cheshire, UK
Has thanked: 18892 times
Been thanked: 9249 times

Re: How do sunspots actually appear and is it still a mystery?

Post by Montana »

There will always be unanswered questions, it keeps the solar physicists in business :)

A great book to start with would be the solar bible from Christian viewtopic.php?t=32593


The Sun?
The Sun?
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2023 7:24 am
Been thanked: 6 times

Re: How do sunspots actually appear and is it still a mystery?

Post by AmitBajpayee »

Sunspots are dark, cooler areas on the surface of the Sun that appear darker than their surroundings. They have been observed and studied for centuries, so their basic characteristics are well understood. The appearance of sunspots is primarily attributed to the Sun's magnetic activity, particularly the interaction between magnetic fields and the Sun's hot, plasma-filled atmosphere.

Here's a simplified explanation of how sunspots form:

Magnetic Fields: The Sun has a dynamic and complex magnetic field. This magnetic field is generated by the motion of charged particles within the Sun's interior. Over time, this magnetic field becomes twisted and tangled.

Magnetic Flux Tubes: Magnetic fields can emerge from the Sun's surface in the form of magnetic flux tubes. These tubes are areas where the magnetic field lines are concentrated.

Cooling Effect: The concentrated magnetic fields inhibit the flow of hot, charged particles (plasma) from the Sun's interior to the surface in these regions. As a result, the temperature in these areas is slightly lower than the surrounding regions. This temperature difference makes them appear darker.

Appearance: Sunspots typically consist of a central dark core, called the umbra, surrounded by a somewhat lighter region known as the penumbra. The umbra is cooler and darker because the magnetic fields are stronger there, preventing more heat from reaching the surface.

While the basic mechanism of sunspot formation is understood, there are still some aspects that remain the subject of ongoing research and study. For instance:

Sunspot Cycle: The exact processes behind the Sun's 11-year sunspot cycle, which involves the waxing and waning of sunspot activity, are still not fully understood. Scientists continue to investigate the underlying mechanisms driving this cycle.

Solar Magnetism: The Sun's magnetic field is incredibly complex and not fully understood. The behavior of magnetic fields within the Sun, including the emergence of magnetic flux tubes and their interaction with the surrounding plasma, is an area of active research.

Predicting Sunspots: Predicting the exact number and intensity of sunspots in future solar cycles is a challenging task. While some progress has been made in forecasting sunspot activity, there is still room for improvement in our predictive capabilities.

In summary, the basic process of how sunspots appear is known, involving the Sun's magnetic activity and the cooling effect it has on the solar surface. However, there are still mysteries and complexities surrounding the Sun's magnetic behavior and the precise details of the sunspot cycle that scientists continue to explore and study.

[][/solar power system]
Post Reply