- Jan 22, 2015
At the center of our solar system, the sun is a constant force keeping planets in orbit, providing Earth with just the right amount of light and warmth for life and even governing our daily schedules. While we're used to the sun rising and setting each day, the sun itself is incredibly dynamic.
And just like us, it goes through phases and changes. Over time, those changes in our star have become more predictable. Currently, it's going through a less active phase, called a solar minimum.
The sun experiences regular 11-year intervals including energetic peaks of activity, followed by low points.
During the peak, the sun showcases more sunspots and solar flares.
In a solar minimum, the sun is much quieter, meaning less sunspots and energy.
In the next few decades, some solar scientists think that we could go into a "Grand Solar Minimum." The last time this occurred was between 1650 and 1715, during what's known as the Little Ice Age in Earth's Northern Hemisphere, "when combination of cooling from volcanic aerosols and low solar activity produced lower surface temperatures," according to NASA's Global Climate Change blog.
But this solar minimum won't spark another ice age, they say. And that's likely due to climate change.