Today: Sat 18 Nov 2017

The sun is set to 'change form' as NASA says solar minimum is on the way

The sun is heading into a period known as solar minimum, during which activity at the surface will ‘change form.’ In this time, certain types of activity, such as sunspots and solar flares will drop – but, it’s also expected to bring the development of long-lived phenomena including coronal holes.

According to NASA, solar minimum could also enhance the effects of space weather, potentially disrupting communications and navigation systems, and even causing space junk to ‘hang around.’

Conventional wisdom holds that solar activity swings back and forth like a simple pendulum. At one end of the cycle, there is a quiet time with few sunspots and flares.

At the other end, solar max brings high sunspot numbers and frequent solar storms. It's a regular rhythm that repeats every 11 years.

Reality is more complicated. Astronomers have been counting sunspots for centuries, and they have seen that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular.

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