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This movie shows how the Sun's magnetic field gets tangled up as the Sun spins around.
Animation courtesy of SOHO (ESA & NASA).

Magnetic Field Lines Get Tangled as Sun Spins

Different parts of the Sun spin around at different speeds. The Sun's equator spins fastest. The poles spin more slowly. This makes the Sun's magnetic field get all tangled up. Loops in the tangled magnetic field poke through the Sun's surface sometimes. When they do, they make sunspots.

There are lots of sunspots about every 11 years. That's when the magnetic field is really tangled up. When the magnetic field isn't tangled, there aren't many sunspots. This cycle goes back and forth every 11 year. Scientists call it the sunspot cycle.

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Last modified December 31, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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