The sun has entered a new “solar cycle”. Officially named “Solar Cycle 25”, it signals that there will be an increase in space weather that could have effects for technology on Earth as well as astronauts in space.
The finding will be key to ensuring that the world is ready to deal with the various problems and complications that can come as a result of that change in space weather.
The Sun’s activity runs on a roughly 11-year cycle, with the star moving regularly from quiet to active and back to quiet. Those periods of activity are known as solar weather, and while their changes have been watched for hundreds of years, many of their processes and effects remain largely mysterious. Changes in the solar weather can have widespread effects: astronauts who are not protected by the Earth’s magnetic field can be struck by dangerous amounts of radiation, and it can also cause significant problems for radio communication technologies on the ground. As such, experts have suggested that the beginning of the new cycle should be an opportunity to make plans for the changes expected in the years to come.
As the Sun heads into its new cycle, it could lead to dramatic events on the surface – giant explosions such as solar flares. Those can spew “light, energy and solar material” into space.