2nd Jun, 2020
Sun has a cycle that lasts on average 11 years, and right now we are at the peak of that cycle.
- Sun has a cycle that lasts on average 11 years, and right now we are at the peak of that cycle.
- Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm. This is called the solar minimum. And it’s a regular part of the sunspot cycle.
- While intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during solar minimum, that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull.
- Solar activity simply changes form.
- The solar cycle is based on the Sun's magnetic field, which flips around every 11 years, with its north and south magnetic poles switching places.
- It's not known what drives these cycles - recent research suggests it has to do with an 07-year planetary alignment- but the poles switch when the magnetic field is at its weakest, also known as solar minimum.
- Because the Sun's magnetic field controls solar activity - sunspots, coronal mass ejections and solar flares - the cycle is detectable as that activity changes.
- During solar minimum, there are, well, minimal sunspots and flares. This gradually changes as the Sun ramps up to solar maximum.
- The magnetic field grows stronger, and sunspot and flare activity increases, before subsiding again for the next solar minimum.