The sun has one tiny spot at the peak of the solar cycle, September 16, 2013
16Sept2013 flattened solar disc 1 tiny spot at solar max
NASA and Spaceweather have no good explanations yet for the collapse in solar activity at the peak of the sunspot cycle. They are perplexed by the inactivity.
The quiet spell is a bit strange because 2013 is supposed to be a year of solar maximum, with lots of flares and sunspots. Supporting this view are data from NASA-supported observatories which show that the sun's magnetic field is poised to flip--a long-held sign that Solar Max has arrived. Nevertheless, solar activity is low.
Four years ago I wrote The Sun's magnetic field is fading, no one knows why. I reported that the fading of the sun's magnetic field was a possible portent of a coming collapse in solar activity. Sunspots are not produced when the magnetic field of the spots declines below a critical threshold. The image below shows a complex spot on the left and a tiny spicule on the right. The spicule is, in effect, a spot that failed to form because the magnetic field was too weak.