- "Something appears to have changed inside the sun, something the models did not predict. But what?"
- "These findings have thrown our best computer models of the sun into disarray."
- "high solar activity has a disproportionate warming influence on northern Europe"
- "The ultraviolet is varying much, much, much more than we expected"
- "The heat input into the stratosphere is much more variable than we thought"
- "solar activity is just one natural source of climate variability."
But for the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behaviour we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The sun is under scrutiny as never before thanks to an armada of space telescopes. The results they beam back are portraying our nearest star, and its influence on Earth, in a new light. Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what? Read more