By Diane Fisher Miller

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Sunspots are darker appearing areas on the photosphere, and, as mentioned above, they seem to fluctuate in frequency over about an 11-year cycle. They appear darker because they are a “cool” 4,000°C relative to the surrounding 6,000°C surface. They are the centers of magnetic fields, apparently related to the sun’s magnetic field. It is possible that the sun’s magnetic lines of force periodically get “tangled” and destabilized since the sun’s rate of rotation varies from the equator to the poles.

46 BASICS OF RADIO ASTRONOMY Occultations When one celestial body passes between Earth and another celestial body, we say that the object that is wholly or partially hidden from our view is occulted. Examples of occultations are the moon passing in front of a star or a planet, or a planet passing in front of a star, or one planet passing in front of another planet, such as in 1590 when Venus occulted Mars. An occultation can provide an unparalleled opportunity to study any existing atmosphere on the occulting planet.

Continuum Emissions from Ionized Gas Thermal blackbody radiation is also emitted by gases. Plasmas are ionized gases and are considered to be a fourth state of matter, after the solid, liquid, and gaseous states. ) since they occur inside stars and in the interstellar gas. However, naturally occurring plasmas are relatively rare on Earth primarily because temperatures are seldom high enough to produce the necessary degree of ionization. The flash of a lightning bolt and the glow of the aurora borealis are examples of plasmas.

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Basics of Radio Astronomy for the Goldstone-Apple Valley by Diane Fisher Miller
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