NASA Informs About The Sun’s New Solar Cycle

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The sun is officially nine months into a new solar weather cycle, scientists have confirmed, and it will likely look much like its predecessor, which ran from 2008 to 2019.
Scientists predict that the sun's new activity phase, called solar cycle 25, will peak in 2025 but will generally be a less active cycle, quite similar to solar cycle 24, which ended in December. The sun's weather, which follows an 11-year activity cycle, is a vital phenomenon to predict because its whims impact life and around Earth, sometimes with devastating consequences.
"We are very excited to be here today to announce that solar cycle 25 has officially started," Lisa Upton, co-chair of the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel and a solar physicist at Space Systems Research Corporation, a mission-support company based in Virginia, said during a NASA news conference today (Sept. 15) to discuss the findings.
Space weather trackers should expect the sun's activity to rise and fall in a pattern similar to that of the last 11 years, Doug Biesecker, a solar physicist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center and co-chair of the prediction panel, said. "Solar cycle 25 will reach a peak sunspot number of 115 in July of 2025," noting that a particularly active solar cycle usually sees a peak sunspot number over 200.
But just because the new cycle will be relatively quiet doesn't mean we should write it off, scientists stressed. 
Biesecker pointed to a massive flare the sun produced in 2012, a few years before last solar cycle's peak. "We're saying cycle 25 is going to be like cycle 24 in terms of sunspots," he said. "Cycle 24 managed to produce an epic, hundred-year kind of solar storm, but it missed the Earth."
And even right now, when solar activity is still quite low, we can still feel the effects of our sun, the scientists said.
"During solar minimum, solar activity does not finish, it just changes form," Lika Guhathakurta, a heliophysicist at NASA's headquarters, said during the news conference. "For example, galactic cosmic rays are at an all-time high in the space environment, and this has all kinds of implications for space exploration, space tourism, and the aviation industry."
Monitoring solar activity and making reliable predictions about upcoming solar cycles will be particularly important as astronauts once again venture out beyond the protection of Earth's magnetic field.


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