2013’s 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 – so quiet, in fact, this years solar max could go down as the weakest in a century.

"It’s the smallest maximum we’ve seen in the Space Age," said David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center yesterday via teleconference.

Earlier this year, there was speculation that scientists had miscalculated the maximum of the current cycle, though it’s become increasingly apparent that no, this is the maximum, it’s just a quiet one. And that, according to NASA, isn’t 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. It’s 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 yesterday’s conference, "but it’s 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 sun’s 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.

"We’re 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

FCC Votes In Favor Of Obama's Net Neutrality - Has The Slippery Slope To Web Censorship Begun?
2015-02-26 20:14
"An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life," according to President Obama and it appears his perspective on the heavy hand of government regulation inserting itself into the last bastion of freedom and dynamism in the US economy, is how best to achieve "openness." Having pressured FCC's Tom Wheeler, the vote ...
The Endgame: White Genocide
2015-02-25 21:06
Made by youtube.com/ThisisEuropa facebook.com/ThisIsEuropa “There is no place in modern Europe for ethnically pure states. That’s a 19th century idea and we are trying to transition into the 21st century, and we are going to do it with multi-ethnic states.” – Wesley Clark, U.S. general, ex-NATO Supreme Commander, talking about the NATO bombing of Serbia, 1999. What is White Genocide? ▪ Moving millions of ...
Former German Lawyer Sylvia Stolz has been jailed again
2015-02-26 3:28
Sylvia Stolz, the former defence attorney for Ernst Zundel has been convicted today in a Munich court, once again under the tyrannical BRD laws concerning so-called “holocaust denial” and thereby “inciting racial hatred”. She was sentenced to 20 months in prison with no possibility of parole. The case stems from her presentation at the AZK in Switzerland in 2012 where ...
FCC Chair Refuses to Testify before Congress ahead of Net Neutraility Vote
2015-02-26 0:49
Two prominent House committee chairs are “deeply disappointed” in Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler for refusing to testify before Congress as “the future of the Internet is at stake.” Wheeler’s refusal to go before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday comes on the eve of the FCC’s vote on new Internet regulations pertaining to net neutrality. The committee’s chairman, Representative ...
Twitter wants aggressive net neutrality rules
2015-02-25 23:16
Days ahead of a vote by federal regulators on the future of the Web, Twitter is coming out in support of the government's plan to treat Internet providers more like traditional phone service. In a blog post, Twitter says that it previously backed "common sense net neutrality rules" through a Washington trade group, the Internet Association. But now the company is ...
More News »