Sun Slips into Deepest Silent Spell Experienced in Years

deep flare activity and high solar x-ray output
The sun has been extremely active as of late with deep flare activity and high solar x-ray output. Yet, just as it seems to be reaching a maximum level, the earth’s personal star suddenly slips into one of the deepest silent spells it has experienced in many years. The flares have all but stopped and any sort of x-ray output has flat-lined. With this happening, it just goes to show that the sun is more unpredictable then we thought. There really is no technique in science able to forecast what will happen with the solar cycles. They change quickly, often unexpectedly.

The surface of our sun is presently missing sunspots, so that is likely the reason behind the pause in flares and solar movement. Scientists believe it is doubtful any flares will return over the next few days. To have this occurring now is seemingly odd since 2013 was been expected to be a time of solar action going all-out and, up to now, the sun has not disappointed. It has thrown off numerous flares and sunspots, many of them being reported in the news. NASA has stated the sun’s magnetic field is set to do a flip-flop, meaning that a Solar Maximum has begun. This is what has been behind the wild year for the sun. Yet just when they announce the possible field switch, solar activity drops to almost nil.

One potential cause to this event is the sun might have doubled the amount of flares and solar activity it has sprung on earth, and we are in a valley just waiting for the next wave to hit. If this is the case, solar action should start up again sometime in the last part of this year or the beginning of 2014. Of course, this is something that cannot be predicted, so it cannot be stated what will happen with any certainty.

Scientists have been studying the sun, and more accurately, sunspots, for over 400 years, yet they still are unable to forecast what is coming next with our life giving star. The English astronomer Thomas Harriot and Frisian astronomers Johannes and David Fabricius, who published a description in June 1611 were the first individuals to use telescopes to see sunspots. After them came Galileo who showed the dark anomalies to Roman astronomers. Another individual of Galileo’s time, Christoph Scheiner had possibly been seeing sun spots for two or three months using something called a helioscope, a machine of his own making. This would lead to a battle of property argument between Galileo and Scheiner. Neither realized the Fabricius’ family had beaten them both, yet Galileo gets most sunspot credit today. Even with his great knowledge, what the spots are going to do still elude us even today.

Yet, as Galileo looked to the sun, there is still good news for those individuals who like to look for the Northern Lights. These do not seem to be greatly affected by low solar action. The auroras we see on Earth, which seem so ethereal, can still happen, and often do. They occur when solar winds stream through Earth’s magnetic field and our planet is located in such a way as to be sitting in just such a stream at this time. So do not give up hope if you want to see the Aurora Borealis.

As for sunspots, they too will return eventually. It is the way of the sun cycle. They will be back and wreaking havoc on Earth’s radio and satellite signals. It is only a matter of time and a rotation or two away.

Written By: Kimberly Ruble