(ORDO NEWS) — The sun has been quite calm lately. Over the past few years, his activity has been relatively low … but it is rising again. On May 29, the Sun erupted in the largest flash since October 2017.
This is a sign that the Sun is entering its new solar cycle and the next few years, as scientists have suggested, will increase activity.
The sun seems to us quite suitable for life on Earth, but over the years astronomers have seen that it really goes through 11-year activity cycles with a clearly defined minimum and maximum.
The solar minimum – characterized by the minimum level of solar activity and flares – marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of a new one. We can predict in general terms when this will happen, but in fact it is very difficult to define it to a smaller size than a period of several months.
The solar cycle is based on the magnetic field of the Sun, which turns over every 11 years, and its north and south magnetic poles change places.
It is not known what drives these cycles, but the poles change places when the magnetic field of the star is the weakest, also known as the solar minimum.
Currently, we expect the 24th cycle to change to the 25th, but we do not know if the solar minimum has occurred or is about to happen.
Back in 2017, NASA noted that the solar minimum is expected in 2019-2020. Last December, the NOAA Solar Cycle Prediction Group narrowed the gap even further by stating that “the solar minimum between cycles 24 and 25 will come in April 2020 (+/- 6 months).”
If the Sun becomes a little more active, this will be evidence of the “happened” scenario.
The outbreak in question occurred on May 29 at 07:24 UTC (03:24 EST) when the plasma left the group of spots. These spots are outside our field of vision, but we can see fiery loops when they break out along the lines of the magnetic field.
They caused an M-class outbreak, the second most powerful outbreak in terms of classification.
The flash was not aimed at the Earth, although, as NASA notes, it was a fairly small M-class flash, just M1.1 on a 10-point scale, so we have nothing to worry about.
Since 925 days before this, M-class outbreaks were not detected, scientists will pay very close attention to the Sun.
One flash may mean nothing – the sun can calm down again and no longer be active. But if new outbreaks arise, we can get confirmation that the poles of the Sun have changed places.
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