Astronomers predict a sharp decline in solar activity

MOSCOW, June 15 — RIA Novosti. Solar activity in the next 20-30 years can dramatically decrease, which can lead to a repetition of the so-called "Maunder Minimum" — the long decline in solar activity from 1645 to 1715, which is related to "Little Ice Age" in Europe.
Three research groups have presented their research the solar corona, the surface and internal structure of the conference Heliophysics astronomers at the University of New Mexico in Las Cruces, came to the conclusion that the next, the 25th, the cycle of solar activity can be significantly weakened , or in general to be missed.

"This is very unusual and unexpected, but the fact that three fundamentally different approaches to the study of the Sun point in the same direction, is a powerful indication that the solar cycle can hibernate", — said Frank Hill (Frank Hill) from the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico.

400 years of observations of the Sun indicate that our star undergoes alternating periods of growth and decline of activity, change at a period of about 11 years.

During the period of activity on the Sun is much more outbreaks, there are "coronal holes" — areas with high speed solar wind — and plasma emissions that cause magnetic storms on Earth. The main indicator of the level of activity is the number of sunspots — dark, relatively cool areas that are formed where the "surface" of the star out of the "tube" is very powerful magnetic fields. The spots usually appear at the maximum activity, and much less — at the "quiet" sun.

A new cycle is accompanied by a change of the polarity of the solar magnetic field.

Previous 23rd solar cycle (they are numbered beginning in 1750, the year the Zurich Observatory) distinguished record deep minimum. The number of days without sunspots was the biggest since the early 19th century. In this upsurge of activity in the new 24-second cycle was a very "gentle", the growth of solar activity, it is estimated that lagged behind "schedule" for about three years.

The sun falls asleep?

Scientists who have studied the dynamics of changes in the solar magnetic field and found that the signs that usually point to the beginning of the birth of a new cycle spots are absent or weak. According to the researchers, the next cycle of solar activity or a "delayed" until 2022, or it simply will not.

According to modern concepts, the Sun changes the intensity of the emitted radiation are mainly under the influence of magnetic field fluctuations. It changes because the plasma, which is the matter of light, revolves around the core of the star at different speeds at different latitudes — faster at the equator, at the poles — a much slower rate (30%).

This gives rise to temporary magnetic disturbances that interfere with normal plasma exchange between the outer and inner layers of the luminary. As a result, these sites are much cooled, which explains the decrease in the emission intensity and the darkening of the visible surface of the sun in these areas.

Astronomers have recorded several features that allow them to predict a marked decrease in solar activity in the next cycle. A group led by Hill found that rotational oscillations of the plasma flows preceding the formation of magnetic disturbances, did not appear on time.

The second group of scientists from the National Observatory Kitt Peak discovered that the average magnetic field strength decreased by 50 gauss per year for the two previous solar cycle (1 gauss — a unit of measurement of the magnetic field, which corresponds to the strength of the magnetic field of the Earth).

According to Matt Penn (Matt Penn) and William Livingston (William Livingston), if this trend continues, and the field strength falls below 1500 Gauss — the minimum threshold stain — that spots will not appear due to the fact that the magnetic disturbances can not prevent the exchange of cloth between the hot inner layers and the cooler air outside.

The third group of astronomers has found that the rapid growth of the magnetic field strength at the poles of the Sun, which is preceded by a change in solar activity to others, this just might be strong enough to displace the old cycle new. This will lead, according to Richard Altrok (Richard Altrock) of the National Solar Observatory, a serious theoretical problem, as the current view does not provide for the existence of two centers of magnetic activity on the sun.

"If our findings are correct, the next solar maximum will be the last that we will see over the next few decades. This phenomenon affects all — and space research, and climate on Earth "- says Gill.

Do not rush

Russian Sergey Bogachev Heliophysics of Lebedev Physical Institute, the American counterpart with a few hasty conclusions. According to him, the current cycle does not develop as expected, however, to say that it would be anomalous too early.

"To say that something is abnormal — yet not. It can be expected that the cycle will be unusual, but so far nothing suggests that it will be abnormal, "- said the scientist in an interview with RIA Novosti.

According to him, the naked eye can see the activity from 2009 to 2011 has increased, and the deviations from the expected values are placed in the middle.

"The growth is there — and it's obvious. It is quite pronounced, and argue only about the speed of this growth. My impression is that it slowed down about two times compared to the normal rate of growth cycle, but overall, it fits into a variety of cycles that have been observed over the past 260 years ", — said Bogachev.

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