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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

BigPic: Sun Gone Wild

• popsci.com
 

Every time the sun lashes out with another beautiful but potentially threatening solar flare or coronal mass ejection, we are reminded that the naturally occurring solar cycle is approaching a “solar maximum” in 2013 and that solar activity is on the ascent. But what does that mean? If you’re having a hard time picturing an active ball of flaming nuclear fusion versus a less-active ball of flaming nuclear fusion, simply see above.

Solar maximum (and minimum) are terms that describe whether we are at a peak or a trough in the sun’s natural 11-year cycle, and they are determined by counting the number of sunspots visible on the surface of the sun during a given cycle.

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