Sun reportedly entering Solar

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    30th May, 2020

As per experts report, the sun have gone into a state called the 'solar minimum' and is about to enter the deepest period of 'sunshine recession' as sunspots are virtually not visibly at all.

Context

As per experts report, the sun have gone into a state called the 'solar minimum' and is about to enter the deepest period of 'sunshine recession' as sunspots are virtually not visibly at all.

About

  • 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.

How does it happen?

  • 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.

Is it a repeat of Dalton Minimum?

  • NASA scientists fear it could be a repeat of the Dalton Minimum, which happened between 1790 and 1830 — leading to periods of brutal cold, crop loss, famine and powerful volcanic eruptions.
    • Temperatures plummeted by up to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over 20 years, devastating the world’s food production.
  • On April 10, 1815, the second-largest volcanic eruption in 2,000 years happened at Mount Tambora in Indonesia, killing at least 71,000 people.
  • It also led to the so-called Year Without a Summer in 1816 — also nicknamed “eighteen hundred and froze to death” — when there was snow in July.
  • So far this year, the sun has been “blank” with no sunspots 76 percent of the time, a rate surpassed only once before in the Space Age — last year, when it was 77 percent blank

 

The impact:

  • Affecting Earth’s upper atmosphere: Excess cosmic rays pose a health hazard to astronauts and polar air travellers, affect the electro-chemistry of Earth’s upper atmosphere, and may help trigger lightning.”
  • Affecting radio communication & satellites: More aurora activity can be noticed during solar maximum, since auroras are generated by solar activity. Increased solar activity can also affect radio communications, and navigation satellites.
  • Affecting higher altitudes: At solar minimum, solar ultraviolet radiation decreases, but the effect of this primarily hits the stratosphere and higher altitudes.
  • Shrinkage: It causes Earth's atmosphere to shrink slightly, which reduces drag on satellites.
  • More rainfall: Conversely, the increase in UV radiation during solar maximum contributes to rainfall, but the effect on temperature is negligible.

However, nothing the Sun is currently doing is going to create freezing weather, famine, or earthquakes.

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