And just like us, it goes through phases and changes. Over time, these changes in our star have become more predictable. He is currently going through a less active phase,, called the solar minimum.
The sun experiences regular 11-year intervals, including vigorous peaks of activity, followed by low points.
During the peak, the sun shows more sunspots and solar flames.
At a sunny minimum, the sun is much quieter, which means less sunspots and energy.
But this sunny minimum will not cause another ice age, they say. And this is probably due to climate change.
“The warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels by humans is six times greater than a possible decade of cooling from a prolonged Great Solar Minimum,” they wrote.
“Even if the Great Solar Minimum has lasted a century, global temperatures will continue to warm. Because more factors than just variations in the Sun’s output are changing global temperatures on Earth, the most dominant of which today is warming coming from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. “
Scientists knew that this solar minimum was coming because it was a regular aspect of the solar cycle. Sunspots were at the top in 2014, with low points in early 2019, according to NASA.
The sun is also responsible for what is known as cosmic time, sending particles and cosmic rays, streams through our solar system. The Sun’s highly magnetized sunspots release solar flames that can send X-rays and ultraviolet radiation to Earth.
Even when the sun is quiet during the solar minimum, it can be active in other ways, such as coronal holes, which open into the solar atmosphere and send flaming streams of energy particles flying through the solar system in a fast solar wind.
Like solar flames, these particle fluxes during the solar minimum can disrupt the communications and GPS we rely on from satellites.
More powerful energy particles, called galactic cosmic rays, can reach Earth, especially its upper atmosphere, during the solar minimum. They were created by explosions in our Milky Way galaxy as supernovae.
“During the solar minimum, the Sun’s magnetic field weakens and provides less shielding than these cosmic rays,” Pesnell said. “This could pose an increased threat to astronauts traveling through space.”
This week, NASA’s Sun & Space account shared this on Twitter amid concerns about the solar minimum. “The sun goes through regular cycles of high and low activity. This cycle affects the frequency of cosmic meteorological events, but it does not have a large effect on the Earth’s climate – even an extended minimum would not have a significant effect on global temperature. “
The forecast for the solar cycle is based on an international panel, co-chairs of NOAA and NASA. They agree that the solar cycle 25 will be similar to cycle 24.
Studying the sun
The probe is designed to help answer basic questions about the solar wind that blows from the sun, throwing energy particles into the solar system. Its instruments can also give an idea of why the solar corona, the star’s outer atmosphere, is so hotter than the actual surface. The crown is 1 million kelvins, while the surface is about 6,000 kelvins.
Understanding the solar wind and the blazing heat of the corona is key. Both play a role in space weather and solar storms, and understanding the solar wind can allow for better forecasting of space weather.
Solar winds and corona temperatures also affect the ejection of mass from the corona, which could affect the Earth’s global energy grid and telecommunications, as well as our astronauts on the International Space Station. The energized and accelerated particles emanating from the sun into the solar wind are also responsible for the northern and southern light we see on Earth.
During its first close encounter with the sun, the Parker solar probe essentially hung over a hole in the corona for a week, observing particles of the solar wind moving along the line of the sun’s magnetic field and out into space.
During the probe’s seven-year mission, its orbit will shrink, approaching it and approaching the sun over 21 approaches.
The probe will orbit within 3.9 million miles of the Sun’s surface in 2024, closer to the star than Mercury. Although this sounds far-fetched, researchers equate it to a probe sitting on a quadruple line on a football field, and the sun is the end zone.