Magnetic waves slowing down sunspots
It's ironic given the gloriously sunny weather we've been blessed with this week, but the notable (some may say troubling) lack in solar activity recently has been a hot topic here at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science. In a talk during a session called 'The Unusual (?) Solar Cycle', S Zharkov and VV Zharkova from the University of Bradford presented a talk on how unknown magnetic waves, out of phase with each other, may be capable of suppressing sunspots. When the waves intersect there occurs a maximum of solar activity, but the next intersection will occur close the equator, which may explain why there has been a lack of sunspots recently at higher altitudes. The effect driving these two fields is currently unknown. Image courtesy SOHO (NASA/ESA).