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Our sun may be special to us, but among all the stars in the galaxy, it’s not that unique. According to a study published Thursday in the journal Science, our beloved star can be classified as an ordinary “solar-type” star, meaning that the internal processes that control its activity are similar to those seen in many other nearby stars. The sun goes through an 11-year cycle where its magnetic poles flip — imagine the north and south poles on Earth changing place — and during this time the sun’s activity changes between subdued and tumultuous. When activity is low, it is known as solar minimum, and when activity is high, it is known as solar maximum. As the sun nears solar maximum and its activity cycle ramps up, its surface gets covered in sunspots, which are ephemeral dark marks created by strong magnetic activity. “Above sunspots you have complex structures that trigger dynamic phenomenons, eruptions that are like volcanoes,” said Antoine Strugarek, a solar physicist at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and at the University of Montreal. “Those eruptions can impact our Earth.” The sun’s emissions can interact with satellites and even influence power grids on Earth, according to Dr. Strugarek. So to better predict the sun’s activity, scientists need to better understand the Additionally, some scientists have argued that our sun’s 11-year cycle is fundamentally different from those of other stars, so Dr. Strugarek and his colleagues designed a model to investigate what controls a star’s activity cycle. They used the model to study how the hot, turbulent plasma that flows inside a star can generate magnetic fields that affect activity cycles

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