The Sun – a hot ball of glowing gas – is the largest object located at the heart of our solar system. The yellow dwarf star holds the solar system together keeping planets and debris of varied size in its orbit. The connection between the Sun and Earth drives the seasons, biodiversity, ocean currents and weather on the planet.
NASA recently announced that our brightest star has entered a new Solar cycle – officially referred to as ‘Solar Cycle 25’. The Sun’s solar cycle is an 11-year cycle when the Sun’s magnetic poles flip and the star transitions between an active to a quiet phase. It is during these phases its effects are experienced across the solar system.
Solar cycle changes have a very deep relationship to our planet in numerous ways, as it could spike the amount of solar radiation we generally receive. It interferes with our ground and space-based technologies, power grids as well as in radio communications.
“Over the last 40 years, we’ve come to observe the Sun in much greater detail,” said Lika Guhathakurta, program scientist of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, in Washington D.C.
NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters explains, “There is no bad weather, just bad preparation. Space weather is what it is – our job is to prepare.”
Researchers at NASA and scientists around the world study and model the Sun to better understand and anticipate changes in the coming years with such forecasts.
Previous solar cycle:
The earlier solar cycle began sometime in 2008 and continued and passed through the entire 2019. The one that is going to come soon will only peak five years from now in 2025. While this may seem of an alarm to us all, NASA has hinted that we have nothing to worry or stress over.
According to researchers at the space administration, the new cycle’s effects are not vastly different from the one we have just experienced.
Doug Biesecker, a solar physicist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center and co-chair of the prediction panel, has said that Solar cycle 25 will reach a peak sunspot number of 115 in July of 2025.
At the same time, researchers have also highlighted that though the cycle is likely to be quieter, it shouldn’t be written off completely either.