For all our technological advancements, our ability to communicate across vast distances instantaneously, our large hadron colliders, smartphones and our Mars rovers, we’re still a bunch of head scratching apes when it comes to the awesome power of the sun. Despite our best predictions that our lone star should be going through the busy period of its current solar cycle, it’s gone eerily quiet.
So calm is that giant ball of swirling gas and fire, that it was even described as “benign” by Rober Rutledge, current head of the forecast office at the National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Centre. He just called a star with the mass of over 300,000 Earths, broiling with nuclear fusion reactions, gentle.
“Quite frankly, we’re not very good at solar cycle predictions,” said Rutledge.
Despite this admission however, we’re still taking a good stab at discerning why the sun’s activity is at it’s lowest in over a century. Wired is pointing to some scientists, that believe this is the beginning of an ebb in output, suggesting a bit of a solar winter. Others suggest the opposite, that in fact we’re in a valley of a double peak solar cycle, meaning heat waves and solar flares are just around the corner.
Rutledge on the other hand, is throwing his up and saying that we just don’t know enough yet. The solar activity could return to normal in a week, or spiral out of control – we don’t have the data about what influences a star’s activity levels to predict it properly.
KitGuru Says: Let’s just hope it keeps things steady. A sudden spike in either direction would be horrible news for everyone earthbound.