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The Question

(Submitted January 08, 1997)

Does the Sun rotate? Are we seeing the same face of the Sun all the time?

The Answer

Yes, the Sun does rotate. We can observe this by observing sunspots. All sunspots move across the face of the Sun. This motion is part of the general rotation of the Sun on its axis. Observations also indicate that the Sun does not rotate as a solid body, but it spins differentially. That means that it rotates faster at the equator of the Sun and slower at its poles. (The gas giants Jupiter and Saturn also have differential rotation.) The movements of the sunspots indicate that the Sun rotates once every 27 days at the equator, but only once in 31 days at the poles.

Padi Boyd
for Imagine the Universe!

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