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We now know that his reasoning was faulty on two counts: most sunspots show little or no vortical motion, and, more importantly, the solar plasma maintains charge neutrality and any magnetic field must be generated by an electrical current flowing in the plasma, not by a net charge carried by the fluid motion. This was certainly not the first (or the last) time an important discovery has been made for the wrong reasons. In the decade following Hale’s discovery of the magnetic field in sunspots, he and his collaborators at Mount Wilson discovered the systematic polarity pattern of the magnetic field (Hale and Nicholson 1925, 1938; see Fig.

He was cautious about this result because it was unexpected; based on Hale’s proposal that the magnetic field of a sunspot is generated by a vortex motion, Evershed expected to see azimuthal rather than radial motions in the 10 Evershed (1909b) points out that these line shifts had actually been noticed many times during the previous three decades, without being interpreted correctly. 9780521860031c02 28 CUP/THW August 14, 2008 10:56 Page-28 Sunspots and starspots: a historical introduction Umbra Penumbra Fig.

Catalano and Rodon`o 1967, 1974; Chugainov 1966; Godoli 1968). In 1965, Chugainov observed small periodic light and colour variations in the star HD 234677 (Chugainov 1966). This star, of spectral type K6 V, had shown earlier evidence of weak flaring (Popper 1953), but it was not known to be a spectroscopic binary and earlier observations (in 1954 and 1960) had shown no photometric variability, so the variations were unlikely to be due to eclipses. On the other hand, the smallness of the colour variations ruled out pulsations as the cause.

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