A few days ago, NASA discovered a new batch of sunspots and solar flares. Nasa explained in a new blog post that the flares are not particularly powerful and are not registered at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center, but that NASA’s own hardware can detect them. The space agency believes sunspots and flares may be a sign that the star is becoming more active again.
Solar activity is weak at times, with an average period of 11 years. Sunspots and flares often occur during periods of frequent solar activity, i.e. during the solar period. It was during these periods that the Earth was most vulnerable to coronal mass ejections, which occur when the sun spews charged particles into outer space at extremely high speeds. If the Earth appears in the wrong place at the wrong time, this space weather can hinder communication and cause problems with spacecraft in orbit.
In contrast, the solar minimum is a period of relatively quiet sun. The researchers believe the sun is now at a very low age, so it may seem strange to see new sunspots and flares. But as Spaceweather reports, the newly discovered features disappear so quickly that observers don’t even have time to catalog them, suggesting that the solar minimum is still going on.
However, the fact that sunspots appear suggests that the solar miniaser may be slowly ending, returning to a period of more intense solar activity. Calculating the end time of the sun’s minions is actually trickier than you think.
“This new sunspot activity may be a signal that the sun may be recovering against a new cycle and has passed its very small period,” NASA wrote. “However, after a very small period, it takes at least six months of solar observation and sunspot count to know when it occurred. Because this minimum value is defined by the lowest number of sunspots in a cycle, scientists need to see these numbers continue to rise before they can determine when they are at their lowest point. This means that the minionist period is an example that can only be identified after the fact: it may be six to 12 months after the fact that it may be necessary to confirm when the minimum period actually passes. “