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Astronomers discover a solar twin whose sunspot cycle changed into a grand minimum

Astronomers studying the sunspot cycle of several dozen stars that are twins of our Sun have identified for the first time a star whose 17-year cycle suddenly ceased, going into an extended grand minimum.

Comparing these stars to the Sun enables astronomers to better determine how typical – or not – the Sun is as a star. The Sun’s magnetic activity is defined by its 11-year sunspot cycle. Of the 59 stars that Baum’s team surveyed, 29 appeared to also have starspot cycles, and the period of those cycles could be measured for 14 of them.

“Of these 14 stars, the average length of their cycle is just under 10 years, which is similar to the Sun’s 11-year cycle,” Baum tells Physics World. However, not all the stars adhered to this time frame. One star that was surveyed has a cycle lasting less than four years, while another star, HD 166620, had a cycle 17 years long.

Note the past tense. Sometime between 1995 and 2004, HD 166620’s starspot cycle simply stopped.

When or if the star’s sunspot activity resume is unknown. The Sun’s last grand minimum, dubbed the Maunder Minimum, lasted 70 years during the 1600s.

No one yet understands why stars do this. This discovery however now shows that the Sun is not unique in this behavior.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Phill O

    It could be argued that the last grand minimum was the Maunder Minimum, but the Dalton was a significant minimum also. We still do not know of a solar cycle relationship to the medieval warm period, which was significantly warmer than what we are experiencing now.

  • Star Bird

    And we all ready know that the Sun not the Earth is the Center of the Universe liberal flat Earth Wanks would have us beleiving this backwards stuff

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