Why has the sun been so quiet lately? The sun switches from Solar Max to Solar Min

Is anyone wondering, why has the sun been so quiet lately?

Well it seems that the 11-year sunspot cycle is crashing as the sun transitions from Solar Max to Solar Min.

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Sunspot Number Progression by NOAA. Sunspot count continues below the red prediction line. NOAA

For the past two years, the sunspot number has been dropping as the sun passes from Solar Max to Solar Min.

Fewer sunspots means fewer solar flares and fewer coronal mass ejections (CMEs). As these explosions subside, we deem the sun “quiet.”

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Monthly hemispheric sunspot numbers. Green fill color when the North number is higher than the South number, and red color when South is higher than North. SIDC

But how quiet is it, really?

The solar activity waxes and wanes in 11-year cycles, and we’re currently in Cycle 24, which began in 2008.

What does it mean for Space weather events?

But low sunspot numbers do not mean boring space weather phenomena. In fact, Solar Minimum brings many interesting changes:

  • The upper atmosphere of Earth collapses, allowing space junk to accumulate around our planet.
  • The heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth.
  • Galactic cosmic rays penetrate the inner solar system with relative ease.

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But what if the current trend continues? The Earth could be headed for a ‘mini ice age’.

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