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They found a potential link between these high-energy emissions, the sun’s fluctuating magnetic field and the timing of the solar cycle.This, many experts argue, could open a new window into the inner workings of our nearest, most familiar star.Thus, a better understanding of the cycle’s physical drivers is important for sustainable living on Earth.Yet scientists still lack a model that perfectly predicts the cycle’s key details, such as the exact duration and strength of each phase.The so-called solar maximum fades toward solar minimum, and the sun’s surface grows eerily quiet.Scientists have studied this ebb and flow for centuries, but only began understanding its effects on our planet at the dawn of the space age in the mid-20th century.
But according to a hypothesis dating back to the 1990s, some of these secondary showers can be bounced out and away from our star by strong fluctuations in its magnetic field.
That means the sun’s total gamma-ray emission is most intense along its equator at solar minimum and at its poles during maximum.
To visualize this, imagine looking at a swarm of fireflies in a frosted glass jar.
So an uptick in cosmic rays should lead to an uptick in gamma rays.
But Linden and his colleagues also discovered another curiosity entirely unpredicted by earlier ideas: During solar minimum, most gamma rays above 50 Ge V are emitted near the sun’s equator, but throughout the rest of the cycle they tend to come from the polar regions.