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Magnetic flows cause sunspot lows, study shows

Satellite observations could improve forecasts of future solar cycles

By
1:58pm, March 11, 2010

View a video clip that explains the links between sunspots, solar magnetic fields and the sun's outer atmosphere.

Newly reported observations of gas flows on the solar surface may explain why the sun recently had such an extended case of the doldrums.

From 2008 through the first half of 2009, the sun had a puzzling dearth of sunspots, flares and other storms, extending the usual lull at the end of the 11-year solar activity cycle for an extra 15 months. Findings from the study, which relied on the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, may also sugge

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