Science

The sun has entered its 25th solar cycle

The sun has entered its 25th solar cycle”

During this Solar Cycle, the sun will transform from calm to intense to active seasons.

The sun's activity has been ramping up over the past nine months as it moves out of a minimum period of activity, experts said.

Sunlight based Cycle 25 has started.

However, despite being predicted as generally "calm", Solar Cycle 25 should not be considered as completely harmless. Another area of solar study, called helioseismology, involves scientists collecting soundwaves from inside the Sun, as a way of probing the elusive dynamo. Well, kinda; it's been weak so far, with very few spots seen for well over a year.

Sun's 25th cycle is starting.

The sun alternates between 11-year periods of higher and lower activity, the scientists said, and the star passed its lowest point of activity in December 2019.

The consortium, led by Dr. Douglas Biesecker of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, and Dr. Lisa Upton of the Space Science Institute, reached consensus by evaluating a plethora of academic articles that present a variety of techniques for forecasting the next cycle. Scientists forecast that Solar Cycle 25 will be a fairly weak one, similar to Solar Cycle 24.

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A panel of experts on the Sun has come to a unanimous conclusion: The solar cycle that has just begun will be much like the last one, perhaps breaking the trend of diminishing magnetic activity the Sun has been exhibiting over the past few decades.

As we emerge from solar minimum and approach Cycle 25s maximum, it is important to remember solar activity never stops; it changes form as the pendulum swings, said Lika Guhathakurta, solar scientist at the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. During the media event, experts from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained that the solar minimum actually happened in December of 2019 but that it typically takes months to actually confirm and declare the event.

Deep inside the Sun, electrified gases flow in currents that generate the Sun's magnetic field, which fuels its mighty outbursts. This means we can hope to see plenty of sunspots, and possibly even some solar eruptions during the next total solar eclipse to cross the continental U.S. in 2024. During the maximum solar eruptions can be considerably more powerful, affecting sensitive technology found on Earth. "A small solar cycle means we're not going to be clearing out the orbital debris that a big cycle would", Biesecker says.

"Space weather is what it is - our job is to prepare", said Jake Bleacher from Nasa. One of the aims of the agency is to establish a permanent outpost on the Moon, which could offer the opportunity to study space weather more closely and to uncover new information. These ejections can cause magnetic storms in the Earth's upper atmosphere, which can affect power grids, satellites, and orbiting spacecraft and astronauts.

This split image shows the difference between an active Sun during solar maximum (left) and a quiet Sun during solar minimum.

"Because a full solar magnetic cycle takes about 22 years, including magnetic polarity reversal every 11-year sunspot cycle, the continuity of synoptic observations of the Sun through programs like NISP are vital to our understanding of the long-term variations of our closest star", says David Boboltz, NSF's Astronomy Program Director for the NSO.



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