2013ís solar maximum could be weakest since the dawn of the space age
2013-07-16 0:00

From: io9.com



So this is unexpected. The Sun is currently at the peak of its 11-year solar cycle. It should be awash with sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections and the like. And yet, observations indicate our parent star has actually been pretty quiet this year Ė so quiet, in fact, this years solar max could go down as the weakest in a century.

"Itís the smallest maximum weíve seen in the Space Age," said David Hathaway of NASAís Marshall Space Flight Center yesterday via teleconference.

Earlier this year, there was speculation that scientists had miscalculated the maximum of the current cycle, though itís become increasingly apparent that no, this is the maximum, itís just a quiet one. And that, according to NASA, isnít necessarily uncommon:

Conventional wisdom holds that solar activity swings back and forth like a simple pendulum. At one end of the cycle, there is a quiet time with few sunspots and flares. At the other end, Solar Max brings high sunspot numbers and solar storms. Itís a regular rhythm that repeats every 11 years.

Reality, however is more complicated. Astronomers have been counting sunspots for centuries, and they have seen that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular. For one thing, the back-and-forth swing in sunspot counts can take anywhere from 10 to 13 years to complete; also, the amplitude of the cycle varies. Some solar maxima are very weak, others very strong.

Back in March, solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center hypothesized that the Sun could be experiencing a lull between two peaks in sunspot activity. A similar "twin peak" solar maximum, Pesnell said, occurred back in 1989, and again in 2001. The first peak of the current solar maximum, he said, reached its zenith in 2011, dipped in 2012, and continued through the beginning of 2013. "I am comfortable in saying that another peak will happen in 2013 and possibly last into 2014," he predicted at the time.

But 2014 is fast approaching, and still no signs of a second spike. Is this a bad thing? Hardly. Disappointing? You might think so, said Hathaway at yesterdayís conference, "but itís quite the contrary."

SPACE.com gives an example of what Hathaway and his colleauges are taking away from this cycles tamer-than-usual antics:

North-south, or meridional, flows carry magnetic elements from sunspots to the sunís poles, building up the polar magnetic fields until they eventually flip around the time of the solar maximum, Hathaway explained. Scientists are noticing that the strength of the polar fields when a new cycle begins influences the strength of the cycle, he added. For example, weak polar fields observed in 2008 led to the current weak cycle, while strong polar fields in 1986 spawned a strong Cycle 22.

The polar fields have been slowly reversing at this maximum, Hathaway said, suggesting that they are not going get much stronger during Cycle 24. This also sets the stage for an even smaller maximum during Cycle 25, scientists believe.

"Weíre seeing fields that suggest the next sun cycle will be even weaker than this one," Hathaway said.

[...]

Read the full article at: io9.com





Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Immigrants in Hungary Head to German Border on Government Buses and Walking on Foot
2015-09-04 22:50
Footage showed migrants — frustrated with the Hungarian authorities, who have blocked their way by rail — starting the walk from Budapest toward Germany. Others remained in a standoff with the police. Budapest - After a day of defiance by increasingly desperate refugees, the government of Hungary metaphorically threw up its hands Friday and offered to bus thousands of migrants to ...
Generation P. Russia awaken!
2015-09-04 21:02
From Youtube description: The first Russian cult film of the new millenium Watch a preview here: Source: youtube.com
Blonde Parade in Latvia
2015-09-04 21:04
Youtube description: Hundreds of blonde Latvian women marched through the streets of Riga to to lift nation's economy. Source: youtube.com
Shocking: Young Girls Convulse On The Floor After HPV Shot
2015-09-04 20:49
Video appears to show widespread adverse reaction to Gardasil vaccine Shocking video posted to Facebook shows a group of young girls convulsing on the floor after reportedly taking the Gardisil vaccine somewhere in Bolivia. Source: infowars.com
White Women Are Getting Fed Up
2015-09-03 23:09
White women speak out against the claim that "White women have things so much easier than every other people." This video has been flagged as "inappropriate" by Youtube: Don't miss the Radio 3Fourteen interview with Lana, Sinead and Megan.
More News »