Why Is The Sun’s Activity So Weak In Recent Years?
For several months, some NASA experts have alarmed the scientific world, announcing that “If the Sun continues to show the total absence of sunspots on its surface, a small ice age could soon occur on Earth”.
An absence that could have direct consequences on our climate, even reversing the trend that was leading us towards a period of global warming.
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The perspective may appear exaggerated and based on a hasty assessment of a trend that has yet to be verified, however it must be admitted that in the recent past of human history such a phenomenon has already occurred in the second half of the seventeenth century, when a prolonged lack of sunspots, known as the Maunder Minimum, plunged Europe into an era of intense cold characterized by famines and epidemics that decimated its population.
Could this happen again?
To answer this question it is first necessary to take a step back to learn more about the characteristics of our star.
Because obviously our Sun is a star: by far the closest to Earth, since the second in order of distance, Proxima Centauri, is 270,000 times further away!
A star like so many in the Galaxy; all in all quite small, although we are talking about a sphere of ionized gas of 1.4 million kilometers in diameter, or a monster that radiates energy in every direction of space in the form of electromagnetic radiation. All this thanks to a core where the temperature reaches values of fifteen million degrees, and where through the mechanism of nuclear fusion takes place the production of that immense amount of energy that allows it to illuminate and heat the solar system for 4.6 billions of years.
In other words, the Sun is nothing more than a gigantic nuclear fusion reactor, wrapped in a spherical shell called the photosphere, which is practically the visible surface of the Sun; that is, the zone where the gases cease to be transparent to radiation. Above the photosphere there is the chromosphere, a thin layer of gas where the solar protuberances originate (gigantic gas eruptions with dimensions of tens of thousands of kilometers); and even higher up the corona extends for millions of kilometers, a very hot region that represents the outermost part of the solar atmosphere. The so-called solar wind emanates from the corona, a continuous flow of charged particles that sweeps the entire solar system.
A trend that has been further consolidated in the last decade, when the solar cycle number 24 (the solar cycles recorded in historical times are numbered with a progressive number starting with cycle number 1, started in 1755), which reached its maximum in ‘April 2014, it was classified as “the weakest of the last 200 years”. And Solar Cycle 25,
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