Evidence for a larger Sun with a slower rotation during the seventeenth century

Abstract

Historical records suggest that during the seventeenth century the Sun was subject to an anomalous scarcity of sunspots (the Maunder minimum1). This minimum was coincident with a severe temperature dip of the Little Ice Age2, from which a relation between solar activity and terrestrial climate has been conjectured3. Solar variability is also suggested by the regular variations in the thickness of annual laminae or 'varves' in the late Precambrian formation in south Australia4. The climatic cycles recorded by the varves include the present 10–12-year solar cycle as well as deep minima, with a mean period of 314 years. A natural explanation of the solar cycle climate connection would be a modulation of the solar output radiation, and possibly a change of the solar diameter5,6. By analysing a unique 53-year record of regular observations of the solar diameter and sunspot positions during the seventeenth century, we have shown for the first time that the solar diameter was larger and rotation slower during the Maunder minimum. This finding sheds new light on the dynamo mechanism, solar variability, and the consequent effects on terrestrial climate.

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Ribes, E., Ribes, J. & Barthalot, R. Evidence for a larger Sun with a slower rotation during the seventeenth century. Nature 326, 52–55 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1038/326052a0

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