Latest Sun Status and Related Information

Context: sun spots have been reliably counted and recorded since the early 1500s. There have been many linkages to little ice ages and general temperature trends, but they have not been used in climate change modelling science because the mechanism through which sunspot activity affects the Earth's temperature is unknown, despite the high correlation. Sunspots are areas of intense magnetic storms that actually cool the sun's surface. However, science is closing in on the mechanism underlying the relationship between sunspots and our climate. Sunspots may disappear completely, per NASA, as in this image. Click the photo for today's image to compare with a clean sun from 24 March 2009.

(Source of Imagery: ESA and NASA Cooperative Solar and Heliospheric Observatory)

Solar activity images

ScienceCasts: Solar Minimum is Coming - Intense solar activity such as sunspots and solar flares subsides during solar minimum, but that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull. Solar activity simply changes form. See video:

Analysis: The two major recorded mini ice-ages, the Maunder and the Dalton Minimums began at sunspot minimums comparable to the present. Among the climate skeptics, this has been discussed for years. As the sun remains unusally quiet, perhaps the world will better recognize that the threat from cooling is far more ominous and urgent. This author believes that sunspots must not be ignored simply because they do not fit into a CO2-based model. The continued low level is now at that not seen since the early 1900s. We may soon know whether CO2 or the sun is most influential in determining our future temperatures. If it becomes clear enough to discern, the news is not likely to be good for humans and other inhabitants of this planet.

From Wikipedia (

A sunspot is a region on the Sun's surface (photosphere) that is marked by intense magnetic activity, which inhibits convection, forming areas of reduced surface temperature. They can be visible from Earth without the aid of a telescope. Although, they are at temperatures of roughly 4,000–4,500 K, the contrast with the surrounding material at about 5,800 K leaves them clearly visible as dark spots, as the intensity of a heated black body (closely approximated by the photosphere) is a function of T (temperature) to the fourth power. If a sunspot were isolated from the surrounding photosphere it would be brighter than an electric arc.

Sunspots, being the manifestation of intense magnetic activity, host secondary phenomena such as coronal loops and reconnection events. Most solar flares and coronal mass ejections originate in magnetically active regions around visible sunspot groupings. Similar phenomena indirectly observed on stars are commonly called starspots and both light and dark spots have been measured.


This page updated or reviewed in December 2015