A New Solar Cycle Begins

Researchers are forecasting a period of relatively placid space weather as the sun enters its 25th solar cycle.

Solar cycles last roughly 11 years, and we’re about nine months into number 25, which began in December 2019, according to a statement released by the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, a joint effort between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The end of one solar cycle and the start of a new one is marked by what’s called the solar minimum. This is when the sun has the lowest level of electromagnetic activity, marked by relatively few sun spots, which increase in number when the sun’s hot gasses are swirling more violently, and a flip-flop of the sun’s magnetic field. That means at the start of each new solar cycle the sun’s north and south poles switch.

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