Star to un­lock Sun’s se­crets

Its stel­lar cy­cle could be the key to un­der­stand­ing the Sun’s ac­tiv­ity

Sky at Night Magazine - - BULLETIN -

A new study of a Sun-like star could give re­searchers an in­sight into the so­lar cy­cle, the poorly un­der­stood 11-year pe­riod dur­ing which the sur­face of our Sun al­ter­nates be­tween high and low ac­tiv­ity.

The key could lie with a star 120 lightyears away in Cygnus, which is a sim­i­lar mass, size and age to our Sun, but is much richer in el­e­ments heav­ier than helium. Ob­ser­va­tions dat­ing back to 1978 have shown the star has its own cy­cle, las­ing 7.4 years and with dou­ble the vari­a­tion in ac­tiv­ity of the Sun. The heavy el­e­ments are thought to be re­spon­si­ble for the dif­fer­ence.

By study­ing the star fur­ther, re­searchers hope to bet­ter un­der­stand the mo­tions of ma­te­rial and mag­netic fields within stel­lar in­te­ri­ors that drive this cy­cle. Pre­dict­ing the so­lar cy­cle is im­por­tant as it can have an ef­fect on Earth’s cli­mate.

The greater ac­tiv­ity on a Sun-like star could pro­vide in­sights into the so­lar cy­cle of our star

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