Arvisp writes with this excerpt from the BBC:
"Solar physicists may have discovered why the Sun recently experienced a prolonged period of weak activity. The most recent so-called 'solar minimum' occurred in December 2008. Its drawn-out nature extended the total length of the last solar cycle — the repeating cycle of the Sun's activity — to 12.6 years, making it the longest in almost 200 years. The new research suggests that the longer-than-expected period of weak activity may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun."