Sunset | Smith Point, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Artist's Description

Sunspots are relatively cool, dark features on the sun’s surface that are often roughly circular. They emerge where dense bundles of magnetic field lines from the sun’s interior break through the surface. [Related: Largest Sunspot in 24 Years Wows Scientists, But Also Mystifies]
The number of sunspots varies as solar magnetic activity does— the change in this number, from a minimum of none to a maximum of roughly 250 sunspots or clusters of sunspots and then back to a minimum, is known as the solar cycle, and averages about 11 years long. At the end of a cycle, the magnetic field rapidly reverses its polarity.

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