Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Last October, the Telegraph reported:
The protective shield of energy that surrounds our solar system, has weakened by 25 per cent over the past decade and is now at it lowest level since the space race began 50 years ago.
Scientists are baffled at what could be causing the barrier to shrink in this way and are to launch mission to study the heliosphere.
Today, BBC is reporting:
The Sun is the dimmest it has been for nearly a century.
There are no sunspots, very few solar flares - and our nearest star is the quietest it has been for a very long time.
The observations are baffling astronomers, who are due to study new pictures of the Sun, taken from space, at the UK National Astronomy Meeting.
The Sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity. At its peak, it has a tumultuous boiling atmosphere that spits out flares and planet-sized chunks of super-hot gas. This is followed by a calmer period.
Last year, it was expected that it would have been hotting up after a quiet spell. But instead it hit a 50-year year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity.
According to Prof Louise Hara of University College London, it is unclear why this is happening or when the Sun is likely to become more active again...
No-one knows how the centuries-long waxing and waning of the Sun works.
The bottom line is that scientists really have no idea what's up with the sun.
There's a lot we don't understand about our galactic neighborhood, either.