A solar forecast with good news for civilization as we know it


The sun has started heating again.

An international panel of scientists announced on Tuesday that the sun had emerged from the quietest part of its 11-year sunspot cycle and now entered the 25th numbered cycle. (The number of sunspot cycles dates back to 1755.)

Researchers predicted that the upcoming cycle would be very quiet.

Solar scientists track the cycle through eBay and flow to the number of locations of the Sun, indicating the level of motion in the Sun’s magnetic fields. Sunspots can shoot a burst of radiation called solar flare as well as a huge explosion of particles known as coronal masses. If a massive coronal mass ejection hits the Earth, it can enhance modern civilization, repel satellites and provoke continuous blackouts.

In 1859 such a solar explosion, known as the Carrington incident, disrupted the telegraph system. Today, the world is more electrically interconnected, and huge transformers that are part of the power grid are considered particularly vulnerable.

Just as economists wait months to announce the beginning or end of a recession, scientists delay such announcements for solar cycles, as they avoid sunset fluctuations in the Sun’s number of sunspots by 13 months. Keep more. Nine months ago, in December, the sunspot cycle reached its quietest state.

“Since then it has been growing slowly but steadily,” said Lisa Upton, a solar scientist at the Space Systems Research Corporation and co-chair of the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, sponsored by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration.

In the last half century, the solar cycle has become progressively weaker, leading some scientists to speculate that the sun may have been during an extended quiet period. The last solar maximum, with an average sunspot number of 114, was the weakest since 1928 and the fourth weakest of all.

The forecasting panel expects activity during this solar cycle to be well below average, with a peak of 115 in sunspot numbers, 10. Give or take. This will be similar to the last cycle. The maximum is estimated to be in July 2025.

“If that were true, it would make cycle 25 almost identical to solar cycle 24,” Douglas A. of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo. Baisker, the other co-chairman of the panel, said. A very active cycle reaches a sunspot number that exceeds 200, he said.

Forecasts by individual scientists still vary widely, with some predicting an even more quiet cycle and others expecting a rebound at higher levels. But Dr. Upton and Drs. Baisker said the panel reached consensus fairly easily, relying on models that use measurements of magnetic fields in the Sun’s polar regions to find out what will happen in the coming years.

Dr. “We considered the development of polar magnetic fields very good in modeling,” Upton said. “It is one of the best indicators for the amplitude of the coming cycle and was one of the main features that the forecasting panel looked at.”

He said there were other indicators that this cycle would be quiet, including a large number of spotless days during the solar minimum. But if the sunspot cycle rises faster than expected in the coming months, it would be an indication that perhaps experts have underestimated the intensity of the upcoming cycle, she said.

Even during weak solar cycles, the sun can cause huge explosions. In 2012, an explosion of the Carrington incident exploded on the surface of the sun – but fortunately it was not intended for Earth.

Nevertheless, a calm sun raises the possibility that our planets will not collide with the solar holocaust in the next 11 years.

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