Question: During periods of high activity the Sun has more sunspots

During periods of high activity, the Sun has more sunspots than usual. Sunspots are cooler than the rest of the luminous layer of the Sun’s atmosphere (the photosphere).
Paradoxically, the total power output of the active Sun is not lower than average but is the same or slightly higher than average. Work out the details of the following crude model of this phenomenon. Consider a patch of the photosphere with an area of 5.10 % 1014 m2. Its emissivity is 0.965.
(a) Find the power it radiates if its temperature is uniformly 5 800 K, corresponding to the quiet Sun.
(b) To represent a sunspot, assume that 10.0% of the area is at 4 800 K and the other 90.0% is at 5 890 K. That is, a section with the surface area of the Earth is 1 000 K cooler than before and a section nine times as large is 90 K warmer. Find the average temperature of the patch.
(c) Find the power output of the patch. Compare it with the answer to part (a). (The next sunspot maximum is expected around the year 2012.)

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  • CreatedOctober 20, 2009
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