(Submitted January 27, 1998)
I am probably way out of my league here, as I am barely
qualified to call myself an amateur astronomer. But I
was contemplating the Sunspot cycle and was wondering
what the odds were that it could be a product of Jupiter's
orbit? Would appreciate any comments you might have on this.
This is a really excellent question. The sunspot cycle is caused by the
flip of the solar magnetic field approximately every 11 years (close
to the 11.86 year period of Jupiter's orbit). The exact reasons why
the Sun's field flips are not known, but it has it's basis in
irregularities in the plasma dynamo at the core of the Sun that generates
the magnetic field. It seems plausible that tidal effects from Jupiter
are one of the perturbations that cause these irregularities, but not
the only one. The earth's magnetic field flips as well, although not
as regularly as the Sun's, and lunar tidal effects probably contribute.
For more information on the solar cycle, you can look at:
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