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Published: Wednesday July 30, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday July 30, 2014 MYT 9:29:48 AM

The silent Sun is a little wimpy

Is the “All Quiet Event” – as solar physicist Tony Phillips dubbed it – a big deal or not?

The Sun has gone quiet. Almost too quiet.

A few weeks ago it was teeming with sunspots, as you would expect since we are supposed to be in the middle of solar maximum – time in its 11-year cycle when it is the most active.

Then, there was hardly a sunspot in sight. In an image taken on July 18 by Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, there is a smidgen of brown just right of centre where a small sunspot appears to be developing. But just one day before, there was nothing. It was a totally spotless day.

Is the “All Quiet Event” – as solar physicist Tony Phillips dubbed it – a big deal or not?

“It is weird, but it’s not super weird,” said Phillips, who writes about solar activity on his website SpaceWeather.com. “To have a spotless day during solar maximum is odd, but then again, this solar maximum we are in has been very wimpy.”

Phillips notes that this is the weakest solar maximum to have been observed in the Space Age, and it is shaping up to be the weakest one in the past 100 years, so the spotless day was not so totally unexpected.

“It all underlines that solar physicists really don’t know what the heck is happening on the Sun,” Phillips said. “We just don’t know how to predict the Sun, that is the takeaway message of this event.” – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tags / Keywords: Science Technology, Science, astronomy, solar flares, sunspots, All Quiet Event, solar physics

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