The sun has begun a new cycle.
Experts from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Tuesday that our star has begun solar cycle 25 after an increase in activity on the surface.
It follows a deep “solar minimum” in late 2019, with NASA and NOAA reporting that the Solar Cycle began in December 2019. They also said our sun will be at its strongest of this new cycle in 2025.
So what happens to our sun?
What is a ‘solar cycle?’
Our star has a cycle that lasts between nine and 14 years, but typically 11 years.
From a visual perspective, the solar cycle is a “sunspot cycle.” Solar scientists can tell where the sun is in its cycle by counting sunspots on its surface.
The number of solar cycles comes from when records began in 1755, which is thus classified as solar cycle 1.
“As we get out of the solar minimum and approach the Cycle 25 maximum, it is important to remember that solar activity never stops; it changes shape as the pendulum swings, ”said Lika Guhathakurta, a solar scientist at the Heliophysics Division at NASA’s headquarters in Washington.
What is ‘Solar Minimum?’
At the trough of the solar cycle, the solar minimum is, which is the period when the sun is least active. It produces the fewest electrons and protons, making solar flares and coronal mass emissions (CMEs) relatively rare.
The solar minimum between solar cycle 24 and solar cycle 25 happened in December 2019, when the 13-month “smoothed sunspot” number dropped to 1.8 according to solar cycle 25 prediction panel, co-chair of NOAA and NASA.
“Just because it’s a solar cycle below average does not mean there’s no risk of extreme space weather,” said Doug Biesecker, panel chair and solar physicist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colorado. “The influence of the sun on our daily lives is real and is there.”
What is ‘Solar Maximum?’
At the top of the solar cycle is the sun’s maximum, which is when the sun produces more electrons and protons as huge sunbeams and CMEs. The last sun peak occurred in April 2014, when sunspots peaked at 114. The average is 179.
What was ‘solar cycle 24?’
It is the last solar cycle to end in December 2019. It lasted for 11 years and was, according to NASA and NOAA, the weakest solar cycle in 100 years – as indicated by its low number of sunspots.
What is ‘solar cycle 25?’
We are now in solar cycle 25 with maximum sunspot activity expected in 2025, NASA and NOAA said. The activity on the sun has increased gradually since December 2019, which is why NASA and NOOAA have been able to set a date at the end of the last solar cycle.
How active will the sun be during solar cycle 25?
Solar cycle 25 probably also appears to be a weak cycle. In December, the panel predicted that the peak – the sun’s maximum – would occur in July 2025, when 115 sunspots are expected. It does so roughly the same as solar cycle 24, although the panel says the solar maximum may occur eight months before or after July 2025.
“How fast solar activity is rising is an indicator of how strong the solar cycle will be,” Biesecker said. “Although we have seen a steady increase in sunspot activity this year, it is slow.”
What is a ‘minimum minimum’?
A “minimal minimum” refers to the period between 1645 and 1715, when sunspots were very rare and there may have been a “small ice age”. After four solar cycles with a decreasing number whose sunspots were feared somewhat similar, but the panel now believes that solar cycle 25 will end the trend of a weakened sun.
“We predict that the decline in solar cycle amplitude seen from cycles 21 to 24 is complete,” said Lisa Upton, Ph.D., panel chair and solar physicist at Space Systems Research Corp. “There is no indication that we are approaching a minimum of Maunder-type solar activity. ”
What is ‘space weather?’
When the sun wakes up, solar activity will increase, and the risk of extreme “space weather” will also increase.
The sun’s corona releases energy into flames that contain hot ionized gas moving toward the Earth. “Although we do not predict a particularly active solar cycle 25, violent eruptions from the sun can occur at any time,” Biesecker said.
All the light, energy and solar material from the sun can spell problems for computers, communications networks, satellites, power distribution networks, aviation and astronauts.
How do we predict space weather?
Scientists are now working on models of space weather so they can predict it in advance. “There is no bad weather, just bad preparation,” said Jake Bleacher, chief scientist at NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters. “Space weather is what it is – our job is to prepare.”
NOAA’s observatory for space follow-up L-1 is expected to start in 2024 and go live just before the expected peak of solar cycle 25.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.