(Space.com) A magnetic “solar heartbeat” beats deep in the sun’s interior, generating energy that leads to solar flares and sunspots, according to new research.

A new supercomputer simulation, described in the April 4 edition of the journal Science, probes the sun’s periodic magnetic field reversals. Every 40 years, according to the model, the sun’s zonal magnetic field bands switch their orientation, or polarity.

Want to know what happens when the sun’s magnetic “heartbeat” skips a beat? “A Nation Forsaken” tells you what you can expect…

That cycle is about four times longer than the 11-year sunspot cycle that governs the level of solar activity. Being able to model such a regular, long-term process is remarkable, the scientists said.

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