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Why do sunspots appear in groups?

Shula Van Gilst, Albuquerque, New Mexico
RELATED TOPICS: SUNSPOTS | SUN
Sunspots-and-prominences
Sunspots and their behavior are direct manifestations of the Sun’s magnetic field, which we still don’t fully understand. Here’s what we do know: Ex-tremely hot gas, called plasma, in the Sun’s outer atmosphere rotates differentially — faster at the middle than at the poles — while plasma in the interior rotates as a solid body. The rotation of the charged solar plasma produces a current. This current creates a magnetic field like that of a bar magnet with a north pole and a south pole aligned with the axis of rotation, but the differences of rotation speed mean the magnetic field becomes wound up and tangled.

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