Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




SOLAR SCIENCE
Solar Mini-Max
by Dr. Tony Phillips
Huntsville AL (SPX) Jun 11, 2014


This plot prepared by Ron Turner of Analytic Services, Inc., shows the smoothed sunspot number of Cycle 24 (red) vs. the previous 23 cycles since 1755. A new video examines the curious Solar Max of 2014.

Years ago, in 2008 and 2009 an eerie quiet descended on the sun. Sunspot counts dropped to historically-low levels and solar flares ceased altogether. As the longest and deepest solar minimum in a century unfolded, bored solar physicists wondered when "Solar Max" would ever return.

They can stop wondering. "It's back," says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "Solar Max has arrived."

Pesnell is a leading member of the NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel, a blue-ribbon group of solar physicists who meet from time to time to forecast future solar cycles. It's not as easy as it sounds. Although textbooks call it the "11-year solar cycle," the actual cycle can take anywhere from 9 to 14 years to complete. Some Solar Maxes are strong, others weak, and, sometimes, as happened for nearly 70 years in the 17th century, the solar cycle can vanish altogether.

Pesnell points to a number of factors that signal Solar Max conditions in 2014: "The sun's magnetic field has flipped; we are starting to see the development of long coronal holes; and, oh yes, sunspot counts are cresting."

Another panelist, Doug Bieseker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, agrees with Pesnell: "Solar Maximum is here .... Finally." According to an analysis Bieseker presented at NOAA's Space Weather Workshop in April, the sunspot number for Solar Cycle 24 is near its peak right now.

They agree on another point, too: It is not very impressive.

"This solar cycle continues to rank among the weakest on record," comments Ron Turner of Analytic Services, Inc. who serves as a Senior Science Advisor to NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program. To illustrate the point, he plotted the smoothed sunspot number of Cycle 24 vs. the previous 23 cycles since 1755. "In the historical record, there are only a few Solar Maxima weaker than this one."

As a result, many researchers have started calling the ongoing peak a "Mini-Max."

Pesnell believes that "Solar Cycle 24, such as it is, will probably start fading by 2015." Ironically, that is when some of the bigger flares and magnetic storms could occur. Biesecker has analyzed historical records of solar activity and he finds that most large events such as strong flares and significant geomagnetic storms typically occur in the declining phase of solar cycles-even weak ones.

Indeed, this "Mini-Max" has already unleashed one of the strongest storms in recorded history. On July 23, 2012, a plasma cloud or "CME" rocketed away from the sun as fast as 3000 km/s, more than four times faster than a typical eruption. The storm tore through Earth orbit, but fortunately Earth wasn't there. Instead it hit NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft, which recorded the event for analysis.

Researchers now believe the eruption was as significant as the iconic Carrington Event of 1859-a solar storm that set telegraph offices on fire and sparked Northern Lights as far south as Hawaii. If the 2012 "superstorm" had hit Earth, the damage to power grids and satellites would have been significant.

It all adds up to one thing: "We're not out of the woods yet," says Pesnell. Even a "Mini-Max" can stir up major space weather-and there's more to come as the cycle declines.

.


Related Links
NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





SOLAR SCIENCE
Investigating unusual three-ribbon solar flares with extreme high resolution
Newark NJ (SPX) Jun 04, 2014
The 1.6 meter telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) in California has given researchers unparalleled capability for investigating phenomena such as solar flares. Operated by New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), the BBSO instrument is the most powerful ground-based telescope dedicated to studying the star closest to Earth. On June 2, Distinguished Professor of Physics Haimin ... read more


SOLAR SCIENCE
New evidence supporting moon formation via collision of 2 planets

NASA Missions Let Scientists See Moon's Dancing Tide From Orbit

Earth's gravitational pull stretches moon surface

Water in moon rocks provides clues and questions about lunar history

SOLAR SCIENCE
NASA could not deliver humans to Mars

Big Brother creators to document Mars One mission

NASA's human spaceflight program doomed to fail: study

Rover Corrects its Spacecraft Clock

SOLAR SCIENCE
NASA Invites Universities to Submit Innovative Technology Proposals

One docking ring to rule them all

CU-Boulder payload selected for launch on Virgin Galactic spaceship

US may lose 'star wars' to Russia

SOLAR SCIENCE
Chinese lunar rover alive but weak

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover 'alive but struggling'

Chinese space team survives on worm diet for 105 days

Moon rover Yutu comes closer to public

SOLAR SCIENCE
Russia, US resume talks on new joint projects for ISS

Russian Soyuz with New Crew Docks at ISS in Automatic Mode

Russian, German and US astronauts dock with ISS

Six-Person Station Crew Enjoys Day Off Following Docking

SOLAR SCIENCE
SpaceX sues USAF, citing unfair contractor monopoly

Next ATV transferred to Final Assembly Building at Kourou

Roscosmos Scolded for 'Pestering Society' with Proton Crash Theories

SpaceX unveils capsule to ferry astronauts to space

SOLAR SCIENCE
Two planets orbit nearby ancient star

First light for SPHERE exoplanet imager

Astronomers Confounded By Massive Rocky World

Astronomers find a new type of planet: The 'mega-Earth'

SOLAR SCIENCE
Raytheon selected to demonstrate next generation, modular radar system

Analyzing Resistance to Impacts and Improving Armor Plating

NASA Beams 'Hello, World!' Video from Space via Laser

Shatterproof screens that save smartphones




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.