Astronomers recently announced that the nearby star Proxima Centauri hosts an Earth-sized planet in its habitable zone. Proxima Centauri is a small, cool, red dwarf star only one-tenth as massive and one-thousandth as luminous as the Sun. However, new research shows that it is Sun-like in one surprising way: it has a regular cycle of starspots.
Astronomers have used interferometry to create a time-lapse of the nearby star zeta Andromedae over one of its 18-day rotations that show starspots — sunspots outside our solar system. The pattern of spots on the star is very different from their typical arrangement on our Sun, challenging current theories of how stars’ magnetic fields influence their evolution.
Nearly four billion years ago, life arose on Earth. Life appeared because our planet had a rocky surface, liquid water, a blanketing atmosphere and a protective magnetic field. A new study of the young, Sun-like star Kappa Ceti shows that a magnetic field plays a key role in making a planet conducive to life.
The Sunspot Number, the longest scientific experiment still ongoing, is a crucial tool used to study the solar dynamo, space weather and climate change. It has now been recalibrated and shows a consistent history of solar activity over the past few centuries. The new record has no significant long-term upward trend in solar activity since 1700, suggesting that rising global temperatures since the industrial revolution cannot be attributed to increased solar activity.
A new ice age is coming — if the prediction of a Lomonosov Moscow State University researcher and her colleagues is correct. A model that accurately predicts variations in the Sun’s magnetic field suggests a sharp decline in solar output during the years 2030-2040, producing conditions similar to that existing during the 17th century Maunder minimum.