Presentation #200.01 in the session Hale Prize Lecture.
The magnetic field of the Sun relieves our star from the monotony of an unchanging existence, at least unchanging on timescales between days and millennia. Instead, it leads the Sun to display a large variety of ever-changing features, such as sunspots and faculae at the solar surface, a bright network in the chromosphere, and loops and plumes in the corona, among many others. It also leads to variations of the total brightness of the Sun. From time to time, the incessantly evolving magnetic field causes great flashes of radiation in the form of flares, or outbursts of particles in the form of coronal mass ejections. In other words, the nuclear reactions in the Sun’s core may make it shine, but it takes the magnetic field to make our star sparkle.
How the solar magnetic field is structured, how it produces aspects of solar activity and variability and how we learn more about it will be subjects of this talk.