US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Our Sun is the source of life on Earth. Its calm radiance for billions of years has allowed life to develop and flourish. This does not mean that the Sun does not have an active side. We observed massive solar flares, such as the Carrington event of 1859, which caused the northern lights all the way to the Caribbean Sea and caused electric currents in telegraph lines.
If such an outbreak occurred today in the direction of the Earth, it would destroy our electrical infrastructure. But, fortunately for us, the Sun is mostly calm – unusually calm compared to other stars.
Astronomers have only recently studied the activity of the sun. The oldest study since the 1600s counts the number of spots on the surface of the sun. He showed that the sun passes through cycles of active and quiet periods. A four hundred year study is a long term in human terms, but it is hardly a moment in cosmic time.
Longer studies examined isotopes of carbon and other elements in ice cores and tree rings. When the sun is particularly active, high-energy protons can hit atoms in the upper atmosphere, turning them into radioactive isotopes. Then they can fall into the trap of ice or wood. This gives us an idea of solar activity for nearly 10 millennia.
This is still only a small part of the life of the Sun. Are the last few thousand years a good example of solar activity? But what if the sun just goes through an unusually calm period and is usually much more active? To answer this question, a team of astronomers compared our Sun with similar stars, and the results were amazing.
Using the data from the Gaia spacecraft, the team looked for stars very similar to the sun. They found stars of the same mass, age, and surface temperature. Of these, they chose stars that had not only a similar metallicity, but also a similar rotational speed. They stayed with 369 stars, which are almost twins of our Sun.
Then, scientists compared the change in the activity of the Sun over four years with the activity of these other stars. They found that the activity of the Sun is much lower than that of others. The variability of other stars is five times stronger than that of our Sun. Solar flares, such as the Carrington Event, are much more common on other stars.
This may mean that our Sun was unusually calm throughout the entire period of the existence of human civilization. If so, then in the future it may become more active, which may have serious consequences for civilization. It is also possible that there is some unknown factor that keeps our sun so calm.
At the moment, there is no indication that the sun may enter a hyperactive period. Now and for the foreseeable future, we can continue to enjoy the tranquility of the sun.
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