The long dry-spell explained by NASA. One of the mysteries of the erratic nature of sunspot cycles has finally been solved. Back at the last solar minimum, sunspots virtually disappeared for a two year period - 2008 and 2009. Many wondered if they would ever return.
In March an article appeared in NASA Science News explaining the inter-relationship of previously-known solar plasma flows ("meridional flows"), plasma flowing in a constant loop from the surface of the sun, diving to the interior at the poles, then reemerging at the equator of the sun in a constant symphony of motion.
"Plasma currents deep inside the sun interfered with the formation of sunspots and prolonged solar minimum," says lead author Dibyendu Nandi of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata. "Our conclusions are based on a new computer model of the sun's interior." Read more in this fascinating article, Researchers Crack The Mystery Of The Missing Sunspots. Maybe we are on the verge of being able to predict the length and intensity of solar cycles?