By: Monica Bobra writing in Sky and Telescope
The Sun, now halfway through its life, might be slowing its magnetic activity, researchers say, which could lead to permanent changes in the sunspots and auroras we see.
We all slow down in middle age, has our sun reached that point?
There is evidence that Sun-like stars slow their magnetic activity after reaching middle age. And the Sun is, in fact, at just that age. But while we might be seeing some evidence of a slow-down, the process will likely happen over thousands, if not millions, of years. Furthermore, this is not the first time that the Sun has deviated from previous behavior. During a 70-year period in the 17th century, the Sun shed all but a few of its sunspots, only to right its course again.
Well maybe not! It could just be another overlapping cycle.
And maybe we’re not seeing a slow-down at all. While the strongest sunspot cycle rises and falls over the course of 11 years, there are other sunspot cycles that rise and fall over longer timespans. These other cycles could affect the 11-year cycle. So we can’t yet conclude that the Sun’s relatively recent changes are permanent. The best thing to do is just keep on looking: There are many more clues buried in the Sun’s many heartbeats.
I write about some of those cycles in a paper on the Dalton Minimum. dalton_minimum
Here is a chart from that paper showing the multiple solar cycles:
Your thoughts? Middle age sun, or just another cycle?