Long Minimums Usually Mean Weaker Maximums, But Sun Could Still Have Big X-Flares in 2011 to 2012

“If this solar minimum keeps going past thirteen years, we’ve only had one cycle before that lasted nearly fourteen years. That was about the time of our American revolution! Solar cycle 4 started in 1785, and went from then to almost 1800.”

- David Hathaway, Ph.D., Heliophysics
Team Leader, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

 

Spotless sun on May 1, 2009. Out of 365 days in 2008, 266 were without sunspots. So far in 2009, January had 25 sunspot free days; February had 23 sun spot free days; March had 28 sun spot free days and April was generally spotless . Image source:  SOHO.
Spotless sun on May 1, 2009. Out of 365 days in 2008, 266 were without sunspots. So far in 2009, January had 25 sunspot free days; February had 23 sun spot free days; March had 28 sun spot free days and April was generally spotless . Image source:  SOHO.
The last Solar Cycle 23 minimum began in May 1996. The next Solar Cycle 24 was expected to start some time in 2007 with a new crop of sunspots. But it is now April 2009, and this has been the most spotless sun in a century. Graphic by David Hathaway, NASA.
The last Solar Cycle 23 minimum began in May 1996. The next Solar Cycle 24 was expected to start some time in 2007 with a new crop of sunspots. But it is now April 2009, and this has been the most spotless sun in a century. Graphic by David Hathaway, NASA.

May 2, 2009  Huntsville, Alabama -  A sunspot is a region of intense magnetic activity on the Sun's surface that are cooler than the rest of the sun. That's why they appear as dark spots. Sunspots are at temperatures of roughly 4,000 to 4,500 Kelvin, which is 6,740 to 7,640 degrees Fahrenheit, and are surrounded by hotter solar material around 5,800 Kelvin, or 9,980 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

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