“The face of the sun has been spotless for 15 consecutive days as our star marches towards its next solar minimum. A striking image captured by Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sun in ‘cue ball mode’
The sun follows a pendulum-like pattern of activity over roughly an 11-year period and astrologers say the next solar minimum shouldn’t come until 2021. This is the longest stretch of spotlessness since the last solar minimum in April 2010.
A striking image of the sun captured by Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory today shows the sun in ‘cue ball mode’. The face of the sun has been spotless for 15 consecutive days as our star marches towards its next solar minimum. There have already been 26 spotless days this year – 34 per cent of the entire year according to spaceweather.com.
Sunspots are dark regions of complex magnetic activity on the sun’s surface, so the number of sunspots at any given time is used as an index for solar activity. Solar maximum is characterised by intense solar activity and the greatest sunspot number.
Conversely, during solar minimum, the sun is least active and sunspot number is at its lowest. Solar activity, however, does not end as sunspot number decreases toward minimum.
There are other sources of solar activity such as high-speed streams of solar material from coronal holes, which spark aurora and other space weather effects.
The reduction in solar activity means we are more likely to see auroras in the coming years, professor Valentina Zharkova from the University of Northumbria told MailOnline…”
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