Couldn't find element LayerAd

Error finding content

Maunder's Butterfly Diagram - Windows to the Universe

Shop Windows to the Universe

Hands On Mineral Identification helps you to identify over 14,500 minerals! By M. Darby Dyar, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
A butterfly diagram of the latitude of sunspot occurrence versus time.
Click on image for full size
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Maunder's Butterfly Diagram

Throughout the solar_cycle, the latitude of sunspot occurrence varies with an interesting pattern. The plot on the left shows the latitude of sunspot occurence versus time (in years). Sunspots are typically confined to an equatorial belt between -35 degrees south and +35 degrees north latitude. At the beginning of a new solar cycle, sunspots tend to form at high latitudes, but as the cycle reaches a maximum (large numbers of sunspots) the spots form at lower latitudes. Near the minimum of the cycle, sunspots appear even closer to the equator, and as a new cycle starts again, sunspots again appear at high latitudes. This recurrent behavior of sunspots gives rise to the ``butterfly'' pattern shown, and was first discovered by Edward Maunder in 1904. The reason for this sunspot migration pattern is unknown. Understanding this pattern could tell us something about how the Sun's internal magnetic field is generated.


Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Sunspots

Sunspots are dark, planet-sized regions that appear on the "surface" of the Sun. Sunspots are "dark" because they are cooler than their surroundings. A large sunspot might have a central temperature of...more

Starspots

In recent years astronomers have become able to detect "starspots" on distant stars! Like the sunspots that frequently dot the "surface" of the nearest star, our Sun, starspots are relatively cool, dark...more

Maunder's Butterfly Diagram

Throughout the solar_cycle, the latitude of sunspot occurrence varies with an interesting pattern. The plot on the left shows the latitude of sunspot occurence versus time (in years). Sunspots are typically...more

Creating Elements up to Iron

When the temperature in the core of a star reaches 100 million degrees Kelvin fusion of Helium into Carbon occurs (three Helium nuclei combine to form a nucleus of Carbon). In the same range of temperature...more

Binding Energy

A plot of the binding energy per nucleon vs. atomic mass shows a peak atomic number 56 (Iron). Elements with atomic mass less then 56 release energy if formed as a result of a fusion reaction. Above this...more

Fusion Experiments

There are several experiments worldwide where the conditions for nuclear fusion reactions have been achieved in a controlled manner. The two main approaches that are being explored are magnetic confinement...more

The Hydrogen Bomb

In the Hydrogen bomb the explosion of a nuclear fission charge (atomic bomb) produces the temperature and density necessary for the fusion of Deuterium and Tritium (isotopes of Hydrogen), resulting in...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF