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Post by Paulie pchris00 on Jun 15, 2010 14:56:58 GMT -6
The last solar minimum really highlighted how little we know about the Sun. Astronomy and Sky & Telescope have both had recent articles about our star, and how astronomers are frantically searching for nearby stars like it for comparison. Is the Sun typical for a star it's size? Probably, but we just don't know.
I think the Sun is showing us that we really don't have sufficient observations to say for certain what's going on inside. We only have 4 centuries of sunspot observations, and really only a few decades of detailed observations to work with. The 11 year sunspot cycle seems reliable enough, but are there longer term cycles going on in the Sun? Are Maunder Minimums normal on a large timescale? How long? Centuries? Millenia? We just don't know. Scientists might be getting really good data now, but how can a mere few seconds of the Sun's lifetime tell us about it's entire history? It's been around quite awhile...
"Just a boy, just an ordinary boy, but he was looking to the sky." -Vanessa Carlton