Some scientists believe sun may be crossing into “magnetic middle age”

 (SILSO data/image, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels)

(SILSO data/image, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels)

I just received the following link to a Forbes article from my buddy Charlie (W4MEC).

If this research turns out to be correct–and time will only tell–it could mean very low solar activity from here on out (let’s hope not!):

(Source: Forbes Magazine via Charlie W4MEC)

The Sun has likely already entered into a new unpredicted long-term phase of its evolution as a hydrogen-burning main sequence star — one characterized by magnetic sputtering indicative of a more quiescent middle-age. Or so say the authors of a new paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Using observations of other sunlike stars made by NASA ’s Kepler Space Telescope, the team found that the Sun is currently in a special phase of its magnetic evolution.

At time of posting, the Sun has no Sun spots at all. The sun is blank--no sunspots, which means very low solar activity. Credit: SDO/HMI (Click to enlarge)

At time of posting (June 28, 2016) the Sun has no Sun spots at all, which means very low solar activity. Credit: SDO/HMI (Click to enlarge)

Heretofore, the Sun was thought to have been just a more slowly rotating version of a normal yellow dwarf (G-spectral type) star. These results offer the first real confirmation that the Sun is in the process of crossing into its magnetic middle age, where its 11-year Sunspot cycles are likely to slowly disappear entirely. That is, from here on out, the Sun is likely to have fewer sunspots than during the first half of its estimated 10 billion year life as a hydrogen-burning star.

“The Sun’s 11-year sunspot cycle is likely to disappear entirely, not just get less pronounced; [since] other stars with similar rotation rates show no sunspot cycles,” Travis Metcalfe, the paper’s lead author and an astronomer at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., told me.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Forbes online.

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11 thoughts on “Some scientists believe sun may be crossing into “magnetic middle age”

  1. George Stein

    I think trump said (or maybe will say) that his new campaign slogan will be:

    Making the sun great again.

    At least the bikinis will be smaller, as someone else posted. Heck just make them out of sunscreen.

    1. Carl

      There are two inputs to that bikini equation. Which is to say, there’s a model missing from our model. The bikini could get smaller and the ‘input’ bigger. Crazy? Not in a world with a spotless sun.

      But, by God, a great America is an America illuminated by a spotted sun and enlightened by small bikinis. Let’s make it happen.

  2. TomL

    So, 1 billion years from now, we will know for sure if this is a new trend or not! In the meantime, a new Maunder Minimum may be beginning to manifest lasting perhaps up to 100 years. These types of 50-100 year minimums are strongly associated with cooler earth temperatures. So, when going out on Field Day, make sure to bring your parka and sled dogs, while mindlessly chanting, “ALL Global Warming is caused by mankind”, as you freeze you a** off…….

  3. Guy Atkins

    Traditionally, the low point in a sunspot cycle means improved medium wave DXing conditions. It might be time to change the focus of your radio hobby to the lower bands :^)

    1. Thomas Post author

      Ha! I know what you mean, Dave.

      Honestly, there will still be periods of solar activity–just fewer and further between if these predictions are correct. I suspect there are many other scientists who might challenge this paper.

    2. Michael Black

      That does make it suspicious. Suddenly we use radio, and a blink later (in cosmic terms) the sun ages?

      What would have happened if this had happened a hundred or so years ago? “That radio stuff will never have practical use”.



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