In this artistic cutaway view of the sun, the Great Conveyor Belt appears as a set of black loops connecting the stellar surface to the interior. Credit: Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo of the Harvard CfA.
March 2, 2011:
In 2008-2009, sunspots almost completely disappeared for two years. Solar activity dropped to hundred-year lows; Earth's upper atmosphere cooled and collapsed; the sun’s magnetic field weakened, allowing cosmic rays to penetrate the Solar System in record numbers. It was a big event, and solar physicists openly wondered, where have all the sunspots gone? Now they know. An answer is being published in the March 3rd edition of Nature. "Plasma currents deep inside the sun interfered with the formation of sunspots and prolonged solar minimum," says lead author Dibyendu Nandi of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata. "Our conclusions are based on a new computer model of the sun's interior." Article here