The sun began to appear again.
An international panel of scientists announced, Tuesday, that the sun has set out from the quietest part of the country 11-year sunspot cycle It has now entered the twenty-fifth numbered session. (The numbering of sunspot cycles dates back to 1755.)
The researchers expected the next cycle to be very quiet.
Solar scientists track the cycle through tides in the number of sunspots, reflecting the level of ferocity in the sun’s magnetic fields. Sunspots can release bursts of radiation called solar flares as well as giant explosions of particles known as coronal mass ejections. If a mass ejection strikes the coronal giant, it could upend modern civilization, wipe out satellites and cause blackouts across the continent.
Such a solar eruption in 1859, known as the Carrington Event, disrupted telegraph systems. Today, the world is more electrically interconnected, and The giant transformers that are part of the power grids are believed to be particularly vulnerable.
Just as economists wait months to announce the start or end of a recession, scientists postpone such statements about solar cycles because they average the number of sunspots over a period of 13 months to avoid being fooled by short-term fluctuations in the sun’s activity. Nine months ago, in December, the sunspot cycle reached its calmest state.
“Since then, it’s been growing slowly but surely,” said Lisa Upton, a solar energy scientist at the Space Systems Research Foundation and co-chair of the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Committee, which is sponsored by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Over the past half-century, solar cycles have gradually weakened, leading some scientists to speculate The sun may be on the cusp of an extended lull. The last maximum of the Sun, with an average sunspot number of 114, was the weakest since 1928 and the fourth weakest on record.
The prediction board predicts that activity during this solar cycle will be well below average, with a peak of 115 in sunspot number, giving or taking 10. This will be roughly the same as the last cycle. The cap is expected to occur in July 2025.
Douglas A. Bisker of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, another co-chair of the panel, said, “If this turns out to be correct, this would make Cycle 25 nearly identical to Solar Cycle 24.” He said that the extremely active cycle reaches a sunspot number greater than 200.
The predictions of individual scientists still vary widely, with some expecting a calmer cycle and others expecting a recovery to higher levels. But Dr. Upton and Dr. Bisker said the committee reached consensus fairly easily, relying on models that use measurements of magnetic fields in the sun’s polar regions to infer what will happen in the coming years.
“We have gotten very good at modeling the evolution of polar magnetic fields,” said Dr. Upton. “This is one of the best indicators of the expansion of the upcoming cycle and was one of the main features that the prediction committee considered.”
She said there were other indications that this cycle would remain calm, including a slew of clean days during a solar minimum. But if the sunspot cycle increases in the coming months faster than expected, that would be a sign that experts may have underestimated the intensity of the upcoming cycle.
Even during weak solar cycles, the Sun can emit massive explosions. In 2012, an eruption rivaling the Carrington event erupted from the surface of the Sun – but fortunately it was not directed toward Earth.
However, a quieter sun increases the odds that our planet will not be hit by a solar disaster in the next 11 years.