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Sun Surface Activities To Change, According To NASA

First Posted: Jun 30, 2017 04:23 AM EDT
The Sun
Solar minimum event could impact communications here on Earth.
(Photo : Amazing Documentary and Discovery HD Channel/YouTube screenshot)

The Sun is changing, and although it would not look too apparent from the naked eye, filtered telescopes will show that the mini-magnetic explosions occurring continuously on its surface are diminishing. This is because the Sun is entering a period known as the "solar minimum," an event that occurs every 11 years.

According to Newsweek, the reduction of the sunspots means that there are fewer flashes of X-rays and extreme ultraviolet radiation to the Earth's atmosphere. However, these changes do not mean that the Sun is any less active than it usually is. The diminishing sunspots will only give way for another type of solar activity that is now taking form.

Dean Pesnell of the NASA's Goddard Space Station Flight Center explained to Phys.org that during a solar minimum, scientists can see the development of long-lived coronal holes. These "holes" are large areas on the Sun's atmosphere that releases solar particles from the star.

A solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will have viewers see the coronals in action so long as they are equipped with the proper telescopes. What is interesting about these holes is that they are actually seen all throughout the solar cycle but last longer periods during the solar minimum, some of which extend six months or even more.

There is no significant impact made by the solar minimum on the way people experience the Sun. However, it does create changes in space weather that could lead to some disruption of the Earth's magnetosphere, which can then lead to disruptions in communication and navigation systems.

Opposite the solar minimum is the solar maximum. At this point, sunspots are at its highest levels of activity, ultraviolet radiation can cause satellites traveling in low-Earth orbit to experience friction, which creates a drag and makes satellites lose their speed, until they eventually fall back down to Earth.

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