Hot stuff: Solar cycle No. 25 increasing with flares and coronal mass ejections
Apr 6, 2022, 2:00 PM
The 11-year sunspot cycle is well underway.
At the end of 2021, former sunspot cycle 24 finally ended, ushering the next cycle, No. 25.
The change of cycles is known in the world of solar physics as a termination event and changes the view on just how strong or weak the current cycle will be.
For a large portion of 2021, solar cycle 24 was actually preventing the current cycle from becoming a reality.
During 2021, we had a sun without sunspots for 18% of the entire year – that’s 64 days.
Solar cycle 25 was not evolving as it should have been because cycle 24 was in the way.
The original predictions for solar cycle 25 were for a mild cycle. But with the recent official end of cycle 24, noted scientists have given the new cycle a stronger prediction when it comes to solar flare and coronal mass ejection activity.
That is important because solar activity over the past few months has been rather intense.
Here are some of the most powerful solar storms in history and the details.
The photosphere is the visible surface of the sun and is one of the regions in which sunspots develop. When a sunspot group has alternating magnetic fields and these fields collide, we get a phenomenon called flares.
Millions of terawatts of energy are released and blasted out into the solar system which can and will affect the Earth in many ways.
There are other forms of energy that are also part of the increase in solar activity. One of these is the massive coronal mass ejections from stored energy in the solar corona. The corona is the “atmosphere” of the sun, but on a different scale.
Temperatures in the solar corona are actually higher than the surface temperature of the sun.
A solar flare travels at the speed of light and can reach us in just over 8 minutes and cause disruption of radio frequencies and the power grid, not to mention our digital world too!
CMEs take hours to reach the Earth and will also affect satellites and the power grid.
At the present time, a view of the sun shows us that there are many new visible sunspot groups.
Here is a more detailed site and current solar activity.
Observing the sun is one more amazing spacecraft, the Parker Solar Probe.
Here is a listing of geomagnetic storms and what each level means.
The next few months will have strong solar activity and we need to be alert for what the sun brings us.
To print your own monthly star chart, click here.
To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.
Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.
Podcasts are available here.