The formation of spots on the Sun, the activity of which generates powerful and potentially dangerous magnetic storms for human civilization, proceeds within the framework of an 11-year cycle. However, for more than 140 years of observations, scientists have not been able to figure out what external signs should be guided by in order to determine the behavior of these spots. According to the new theory, such should be considered the movement of coronal points - bright flashes of ultraviolet radiation.
After the solar minimum, the number of sunspots begins to grow, they originate at a latitude of 35 degrees and move to the solar equator, where they disappear. This is a slow process and can be traced by the movement of coronal points, which sometimes intersect with sunspots. This is due to the fact that dots and spots are side effects of toroidal magnetic fields, which are wrapped around the sun, as it were.
Solar minimum (left) and solar maximum (right)
Initially, magnetic fields are hidden in the thickness of the star, and when they rise to its surface, they generate spots in the frame of coronal points. As it moves, the spot accumulates plasma behind it, so when two magnetic fields at the equator meet, the plasma they collect is released. A powerful shock wave is formed, a kind of "solar tsunami", which moves along the surface of the star until it collides with another magnetic field. A new spot is formed and the cycle is restarted.
To determine the key points of this process, scientists had to look at the picture of what is happening from a previously impossible wide angle. They put together data on spectral radiation, magnetic field, radio signals, etc. Now a new solar cycle is on the way, it should start in 2020, which means that scientists will have an excellent opportunity to test the correctness of their guesses.