The too quiet sun

I’ve posted occasionally  (e.g. see here and hereabout the tepid solar activity in what should be a period of awesomely explosive outbursts from our home star. The realization is starting to sink in that this will truly be a very minimal maximum in the solar cycle : Is our Sun falling silent? – BBC (incl. video) 

“I’ve been a solar physicist for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” says Richard Harrison, head of space physics at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

He shows me recent footage captured by spacecraft that have their sights trained on our star. The Sun is revealed in exquisite detail, but its face is strangely featureless.

“If you want to go back to see when the Sun was this inactive… you’ve got to go back about 100 years,” he says.


While the full consequences of a quietening Sun are not fully understood, one thing scientists are certain about is that our star is unpredictable, and anything could happen next.

“This feels like a period where it’s very strange… but also it stresses that we don’t really understand the star that we live with.” says Prof Harrison.

“Because it’s complicated – it’s a complex beast.


Check the HobbySpace Sun & Space Weather page for daily solar imagery and data.