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ALMA starts observing the Sun

17 January 2017 Stephen Clark

New images taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile have revealed otherwise invisible details of our Sun, including a new view of the dark, contorted centre of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth.

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All’s quiet on the Sun

3 December 2016 Astronomy Now

This week the Sun was hitting its lowest level of solar activity since 2011 as it gradually marches toward solar minimum. See a near spotless Sun revolve in this video from the Solar Dynamic Observatory.

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Proxima Centauri might be more Sun-like than we thought

11 October 2016 Astronomy Now

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.

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‘Starspot’ images of nearby star give insights into early Sun

4 May 2016 Astronomy Now

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.

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Corrected sunspot history suggests climate change not due to natural solar trends

8 August 2015 Astronomy Now

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.

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Diminishing solar activity may bring new Ice Age by 2030

17 July 2015 Astronomy Now

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.