General, Research, Technology

What is the Solar minimum and why not be afraid of it?

According to researchers from NASA, we liveduring the "big solar minimum." The last time such a solar cycle was observed between 1650 and 1715, during the so-called Small Ice Age in the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, when the combination of cooling of volcanic aerosols and low solar activity led to a decrease in temperature on the surface of the Earth. Scientists note that a large solar minimum will not cause a new ice age, which is most likely directly related to climate change. Let me remind you that the Sun is one of the main mysteries for scientists, and the latest observations indicate that our star is fading. We tell what is happening to the Sun, what is a solar minimum and where does climate change.

Sun spots are visible in the image on the right, but they are not in the image on the left. The reason for the disappearance of sunspots is a solar minimum

Sunny minimum Is a period of low solar activity in11 year cycle of the sun. During the solar minimum, the activity of flares and spots on the Sun decreases, and often the manifestation of activity is not observed for several days.


  • 1 Sun Life Cycle
  • 2 What is a solar minimum?
  • 3 Sunny minimum and climate change
  • 4 Is this solar minimum special?
  • 5 Study of the Sun

Sun Life Cycle

To begin with, the Sun is the central bodySolar system - is a hot gas ball. By its mass, the Sun is 750 times superior to all other bodies of the Solar System, and the light of the star reaches our planet in 8 minutes. So every time we look at the Sun, we see it as it was 8 minutes ago, directly a time machine! In addition, the surface of distant stars cannot be discerned through telescopes, so studying the Sun is at the same time studying the stars in the Universe.

Moreover, the sun is a constant force thatwith its gravity holds nearby all the bodies of the solar system. Thanks to the Sun, planets are held in orbit, which provides the Earth with the necessary amount of light and heat. Of course, we are used to the fact that the sun rises and sets every day, but the star itself is very dynamic. Like all life forms known to man, stars go through different stages and changes. It is only over time that these changes in the Sun become more predictable. So, according to the latest observations of astronomers, right now the Sun is going through a less active phase - the solar minimum.

Every second, our native star overcomesmore than 200 km in orbit around the center of the Milky Way, while the Sun and the center of the Galaxy are divided by an abyss of 25,000 light years. From the outskirts of the galaxy our Sun is separated by the same distance.

In fact, the sun is not as well understood as we think.

What is a solar minimum?

It is believed that the sun is experiencing regular11-year intervals (solar cycle), including energy peaks of activity, followed by its decrease, and then again increase and decrease again, etc. During the peak on the Sun, more sunspots and solar flares are observed, as scientists have already reported. But in the phase of the solar minimum, the activity of the Sun is much less, and there are practically no spots and flashes on the star. Let me remind you that in the photosphere of the Sun sunspots appear in the form of dark areas that look colder and highly magnetized.

But even when the star is calm during sunnyminimum, its activity may manifest itself in a different way. We are talking about coronal holes that emit flaming streams of charged particles flying through the solar system using the solar wind. Like solar flares, these particle fluxes during a solar minimum can disrupt communications and GPS.

We observe coronary holes throughout the entire solar cycle, but during the solar minimum they can last longer - six months or more.

Dean Pesnell, Researcher, Solar Dynamics Observatory Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Sunny minimum and maximum in the view of NASA

As the official NASA Sun & Space account inTwitter, The Sun goes through regular cycles of high and low activity. This cycle affects the frequency of space weather events, but does not have a significant effect on the Earth’s climate - even an extended minimum will not have a significant effect on the global temperature on the planet.

See also: What will happen to the Sun in the future?

Sunny minimum and climate change

NASA researchers told CNN, even ifthe solar minimum lasted a century, global temperatures on Earth would continue to rise. The fact is that global temperatures on Earth are changing not only due to variations in solar activity, but also because the most dominant factor today is warming caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. So, temperature drops, alas, should not be expected.

In our region, the cosmic weather has a huge impact on the sun.

Is this solar minimum special?

The Maunder minimum is a period of long-term reduction in the number of sunspots from about 1645 to 1715.
Historically, the assumption thata prolonged solar minimum contributed to the emergence of the Small Ice Age, it was considered true. But some scholars have suggested that temperature drops were more likely due to volcanic activity, rather than a solar minimum. General temperatures, experts believe, decreased by only 1 degree during this mini - “ice age”.

Read even more interesting articles about our galaxy, the Solar system and the Universe on our channel in Yandex.Zen. There are regularly published articles that are not on the site.

Sun study

Recall that in August 2018, NASA launchedParker Solar probe, which should come closer to the Sun than any device before. This is a unique opportunity to explore. The probe was designed to help answer fundamental questions about the solar wind that comes from the sun, scattering energy particles throughout the solar system. Probe instruments can also give an idea of ​​why the solar corona, the outer atmosphere of a star, is much hotter than the rest of the surface. Read more in the fascinating material of my colleague Ilya Hel.