APR 04, 2017 06:32 AM PDT

The Sun Recently Had No Sunspots for Over Two Weeks

NASA is constantly monitoring the Sun with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is an observation device built specifically for imaging and keeping track of the Sun, its magnetic field, its solar activity, and its sunspots.

Over a 15-day stretch of time from March 7th to March 22nd, NASA’s SDO reportedly observed a period where the Sun was completely spotless, which is an event that generally doesn’t occur all that often.

Image Credit: NASA’s GSFC/SDO/Joy Ng

The SDO capture on the right shows the Sun from March 7th to March 22nd, illustrating how there were no sunspots to speak of.

Related: What would happen if the Sun died?

Sunspots are cooler regions of the star where the magnetic field expands too far and protrudes through the surface of the Sun. This leaves a gap in the star and it slowly fills back in as the Sun’s magnetic field regularizes.

Sunspots are also quite important to scientists, because they can indicate when the sun transitions from one phase to another – in other words, whether the Sun is going through a solar maximum or solar minimum event.

The last time the Sun went through a spotless phase that lasted this long was in April of 2010, which was during a solar minimum. The spotlessness that just recently occurred indicates that the Sun is preparing for yet another solar minimum phase, which NASA estimates will occur between 2019 and 2020.

During a solar minimum, the Sun goes through a temporary period of minimal solar activity. When this happens, the magnetic field calms down and sunspots don’t appear as frequently (or at all). These phases occur regularly every 11 years or so, so while the name may sound daunting, there’s no need to panic; it's just a cycle.

On the other hand, experts have recently predicted 'Maunder Minimum'-like activity from the Sun in the next few decades.

Related: Here's what the Sun looks like at a wavelength of 1.25mm

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
SEP 21, 2019
Astronomers Delve Into the Dynamics of Haumea's Planetary Ring
If you were to ask any average Joe on the street if they could name some of the solar system’s dwarf planets, Pluto would undoubtedly be one of their...
SEP 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 21, 2019
Astronomers Baffled by the Strange Glow at the Center of Milky Way
Since 2009, astrophysicists have been seriously puzzled about an excess of gamma-ray appearing at the center of the Milky Way. The next decade witnessed a...
SEP 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 21, 2019
Superionic Water--"Ice" Formed Under Extreme Heat and Pressure
Water solidifies into ice when the temperature drops below the freezing point, and turn into vapor gas at 100 Celsius. However, according to the latest fin...
SEP 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
SEP 21, 2019
Will Elon Musk's Space-bound Tesla Roadster Ever Return to Earth?
It was just over a year ago that SpaceX lofted Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster with the ‘Starman’ dummy passenger into outer space...
SEP 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
SEP 21, 2019
Everything We Know About Triton So Far...
Our solar system is chock-full of moons besides the one that orbits our own planet, and perhaps one of the most intriguing of them all is Neptune’s m...
SEP 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
SEP 21, 2019
Here's Why NASA's Upcoming Dragonfly Mission is So Exciting
NASA’s had an interest in Saturn’s moon Titan for a very long time. Previous space-centric missions including Cassini-Huygens and Voyager 2 mad...
Loading Comments...