Topic : Solar Activity
Learning Objective: Explain how magnetism is the source of features like sunspots and solar prominences.
Section 15.2 of the text:
“Explain how magnetism is the source of features like sunspots and solar prominences.”
From 15.3 of the text:
“Describe the various ways in which the solar activity cycle manifests itself, including flares, coronal mass ejections, prominences, and plages.”
In class we learned that features of solar activity are created by magnetic fields which form and change in the convecting plasma in the outer layers of the Sun.
- In the space below draw a bar magnet with a north and south pole and include magnetic field lines. (Magnetic field lines represent the directions in which compass needles would point if they were placed near the bar magnet. The lines are closer together where the field is stronger and farther apart where the field is weaker.)
- In the space below draw a solar prominence. (See Figure 2 (a) in Section 15.3 of your text for an example.)
- How are your drawings of the bar magnet and the solar prominence alike?
- On your drawing of the solar prominence, indicate where the sunspots are. How many sunspots do you think are involved in a typical solar prominence? Explain.
- Students 1 and 2 are discussing what would happen if the magnetic field of the Sun somehow disappeared.
Student 1: Solar prominences would be smaller or nonexistent, but number of sunspots is tied to an eleven year cycle. Therefor the number of sunspots would not change.
Student 2: I disagree. Solar activity is the result of magnetic fields within the Sun and sunspots are regions of strong magnetic fields. Therefore with no magnetic field there would be no sunspots.
Do you agree or disagree with either or both of the students? Explain your reasoning.