Despite a recent flare, solar physicists project low activity for up to a decade
A powerful explosion that erupted on the solar surface on February 14 was the most powerful flare in more than four years, and heralds an approaching peak in the sun’s 11-year activity cycle. But as the sun pulls out of an exceptionally quiet period of low activity, researchers predict the coming solar maximum won’t be very exciting either.
“This cycle continues to fall below expectations. And those expectations were pretty low two years ago,” says David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The number of sunspots — dark, highly magnetized regions on the solar surface — is on