Just How Active is our Sun Now Compared to Two Years Ago?

This video provided by the Solar Dynamics Observatory provides a side-by-side comparison of the Sun from precisely two years ago (left, from SOHO in 2009) to the present (right, from Solar Dynamics Observatory, showing March 27-28, 2011) which dramatically illustrates just how active the Sun has become. The comparisons shown in two similar wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light, reveal how the Sun now sports numerous active regions that appear as lighter areas that are capable of producing solar storms. Two years ago the Sun was in an extremely quiet solar minimum. The Sun’s maximum period of activity is predicted to be around 2013, so activity will likely continue to ramp up.

7 Replies to “Just How Active is our Sun Now Compared to Two Years Ago?”

    1. Auroras at relatively lower latitudes compared to now. I remember reading reports, around the time of the last max., auroras were seen as south as Arizona, USA. It could possibly disrupt power grids. Affect satellites and thus certain communication channels which depend on it.

      Of course, the above is not to be taken as an exhaustive list of possibilities.

    2. Sol’s magnetic field experiences a polarity reversal during Solar maximum. While that has no immediate effects on the surface of Earth it may effect upper atmospheric polar jet streams and thereby influence weather patterns? The jury is still out on this one…

  1. Nice video. To answer Aditya, this is a regular part of the solar cycle. Right now (I believe) we are (or reaching) the maximum activity seen in the solar cycle period. It does affect weather on Earth but to what degree I’m unsure.

    1. Thank you for your answers, It’s the affect of weather I had in mind when I asked the question … But I can’t ask anymore, as Kdes already said ” to what degree I’m unsure. “

  2. Wondering if we’re looking at the same face of the sun on both videos and if so it’s interesting that the only active area two years ago (coming around at ~10 o’clock) is also active in today’s shot.

  3. Ooo, glow-y!

    @ aditya:

    Another weather effect IIRC people will look at, is the solar cycle difference in solar wind which blows up the heliosphere bubble. The heliosphere stands for ~ 90 % of the dampening of cosmic rays (CR). So its modulation may affect weather on Earth: CR is believed to act as a seed for clouds on all altitudes.

    AFAIU this long chain of effects, in the end it comes out as a remaining uncertainty in AGW models sensitivity. So nailing it down will enable better climate prediction.

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