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‘Solar Cycle 25 Is Here: NASA & NOAA’

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    22nd Sep, 2020

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed their analysis and predictions about the new solar cycle – and how the coming upswing in space weather will impact our lives and technology on Earth, as well as astronauts in space.

Context

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed their analysis and predictions about the new solar cycle – and how the coming upswing in space weather will impact our lives and technology on Earth, as well as astronauts in space.

About

  • The new solar cycle, called Solar Cycle 25 is believed to have begun.
    • Solar Cycle 25 officially began in December 2019, when solar minimum occurred, marking the end of Solar Cycle 24. Because the sun is so variable, it can take months to calculate when the new cycle starts.
    • Solar Cycle 24 had the fourth-smallest intensity since regular record keeping began with Solar Cycle 1 in 1755. It was also the weakest cycle in 100 years. Scientists forecast that Solar Cycle 25 will be a fairly weak one, similar to Solar Cycle 24.
  • The Sun is a huge ball of electrically-charged hot gas. This charged gas moves, generating a powerful magnetic field.
  • The Sun’s magnetic field goes through a cycle, called the solar cycle.
  • Every 11 years or so, the Sun’s magnetic field completely flips. This means that the Sun’s north and south poles switch places.
  • Then it takes about another 11 years for the Sun’s north and south poles to flip back again.
  • As the magnetic fields change, so does the amount of activity on the Sun’s surface.

Tracking solar activity

  • Scientists track a solar cycle by using sunspots, which are the dark blotches on the Sun that are associated with solar activity.
  • Sunspots are associated as the origins for giant explosions such as solar flares that can spew light, energy and solar material into space.

What is Sunspot?

  • A Sunspot is an area on the Sun that appears dark on the surface and is relatively cooler than the surrounding parts.
  • These spots, some as large as 50,000 km in diameter, are the visible markers of the Sun’s magnetic field, which forms a blanket that protects the solar system from harmful cosmic radiation.
  • When a Sunspot reaches up to 50,000 km in diameter, it may release a huge amount of energy that can lead to solar flares.
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