New data suggests Sun undergoing fundamental changes


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The uncertainty of science: New data, when compared with similar data collected over decades, suggests the Sun’s solar cycle is undergoing some fundamental changes.

In work just published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the team shows that the interior of the Sun has changed in recent years, and that these changes persist in the current cycle. In combination with theoretical models, the observations suggest that the magnetic field distribution in the outer layers may have become a bit thinner. Other seismic data shows that the rotation rate of the Sun has also undergone some changes in the way the Sun rotates at different latitudes.

“Again, this is not how it used to be and the rotation rate has slowed a bit at latitudes around about 60 degrees. We are not quite sure what the consequences of this will be but it’s clear that we are in unusual times. However, we are beginning to detect some features belonging to the next cycle and we can suggest that the next minimum will be in about two years,” says Elsworth.

First, they don’t know what will happen because of these changes. Second, their data confirms that the solar minimum will occur in about two years, which would make this cycle only 9 years long, one of the shortest but also one of the weakest that has been observed, two things that previously had never gone together.

Share

3 comments

  • ken anthony

    Ignore that ball of gas that makes life possible. Options? We don’ need no stinkin’ options!

    It’s not as if state changes can happen suddenly. Why would we need to have our eggs in more than one basket?

    Stellar ages are long, so nothing happens in a moment, right? eh, guys?

    News flash. The sun just exploded. Lights out in 8 minutes.

  • Phil Berardelli

    I keep going back to that article I wrote for ScienceNow in 2010 (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2010/09/say-goodbye-sunspots), in which solar scientists were speculating that the sun was displaying a pattern that suggested the approach of a new Maunder Minimum, a period last scene several hundred years ago and popularly called the Little Ice Age. Now, seven years later, those speculations seem increasingly valid. If they prove true, I think two things will happen: 1) Humanity will experience a mild taste of what life would be like during the next ice age, and 2) Assertions about runaway, human-caused global warming (such as the latest ridiculous statement by, of all people, Stephen Hawking) will quickly die out; with them efforts to curb CO2 “pollution,” to impose punitive carbon taxes and wealth transfers, and the credibility of all who have derisively referred to appropriately skeptical scientists and other individuals as “deniers.” In short, much good will result from the annoying and unpleasant but relatively mild effects of a reduction in solar activity.

  • Phil Berardelli

    Apologies for the spellcheck incongruity. That phrase “last scene several hundred…” should have been “last seen several hundred years ago…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *