Sci­en­tists pre­dict 2020-30 so­lar cy­cle


Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Nation - Sne­hal Fer­nan­des sne­hal.fer­nan­[email protected]­dus­tan­

In­dian sci­en­tists have come up with the first physics­based pre­dic­tion of the up­com­ing so­lar cy­cle — also called sunspot cy­cle — sched­uled to start early in 2020.

Ev­ery 11 years, the sun’s mag­netic field flips as the north and south poles switch places. This marks the begin­ning of a new so­lar cy­cle, which af­fects the ac­tiv­ity on the sur­face of the sun.

The pre­dic­tion re­vealed how the sun will be­have and the ex­pected con­di­tions in space over the next decade, which will help to plan mis­sions to space and in the upkeep of space­based tech­nolo­gies.

A two-mem­ber team from the Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence in Space Sci­ences In­dia at the In­dian In­sti­tute of Sci­ence Ed­u­ca­tion and Re­search, Kolkata, per­formed the first cen­tury-scale data-driven sim­u­la­tions of so­lar ac­tiv­ity — cou­pling for the first time two dif­fer­ent mod­els of the Sun.

The study ‘Pre­dic­tion of the strength and tim­ing of sunspot cy­cle 25 re­veal decadal-scale space en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions’ co-au­thored by PhD stu­dent Ev­ery 11 years, the sun’s mag­netic field flips be­cause the north and south poles switch places, which marks the begin­ning of a new so­lar cy­cle The so­lar cy­cle af­fects the ac­tiv­ity on the sur­face of the sun such as sunspots

When the mag­netic field lines near sunspots tan­gle, cross, or re­or­ga­nize, it can lead to an ex­plo­sion of en­ergy called a so­lar flare that can crip­ple

Pran­tika Bhowmik was pub­lished in the jour­nal — Na­ture Com­mu­ni­ca­tions — on Thurs­day.

The re­search was sup­ported by the Min­istry of Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia, Indo-French Cen­tre for the Pro­mo­tion of Ad­vanced Re­search and NASA.

Their fore­cast re­veals that the next so­lar cy­cle 25 will be sim­i­lar to the cur­rent cy­cle 24, which will end in De­cem­ber 2019.

The next cy­cle might be slightly stronger than the pre­vi­ous cy­cle and will peak around 2024. The cur­rent so­lar cy­cle 24 is one of the weak­est cy­cles in satel­lites, trip elec­tric power grids and lead to large-scale telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion break­downs

Pre­dict­ing so­lar cy­cles help in plan mis­sions to space and in the upkeep of space-based tech­nolo­gies

While the peaks of some so­lar cy­cles are stronger — be­tween 150 and 200 sunspots — there are also those weaker than av­er­age – be­low 100 sunspots.

the cen­tury.

“Pre­dict­ing the so­lar cy­cle is there­fore im­por­tant be­cause the sun’s ac­tiv­ity in­flu­ences en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions in the space. This ad­versely af­fects satel­lites and space-based tech­nolo­gies such as telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and nav­i­ga­tional net­works,” said pro­fes­sor Dibyendu Nandi, the lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

Nandi, also an as­so­ciate at the Pune-based In­ter-Univer­sity Cen­tre for Astronomy and As­tro­physics (IUCAA) added, “The Sun is also the pri­mary nat­u­ral source of en­ergy for the earth’s cli­mate. The sun’s ac­tiv­ity level changes but pre­dict­ing these changes has been chal­leng­ing.”

With In­dia slated to launch its maiden mis­sion to the Sun — Aditya L1 — in 2020 that will study var­i­ous as­pects of the Sun and space-weather, So­mak Ray­chaud­hary, di­rec­tor of IUCAA said, “This is a very im­por­tant pa­per be­cause it looks like we will now be able to pre­dict fluc­tu­a­tions in so­lar ac­tiv­ity much more re­li­ably. Pre­dict­ing how the sun will be­have will help in the satel­lite launch. Data from observing the Sun from Aditya L1 will also help the re­search team to make their mod­els bet­ter.”

Re­searchers said suc­ces­sive so­lar cy­cles over the last sev­eral decades have sig­nif­i­cantly weak­ened in strength lead­ing to a wide­spread spec­u­la­tion that a sig­nif­i­cantly weak sunspot cy­cle 25 or an im­pend­ing dis­ap­pear­ance of sunspots for many decades such as one be­tween 1645 and 1715 would alleviate global warm­ing and bring down the Earth’s tem­per­a­ture.

How­ever, the team said the so­lar cy­cle 25 will not be in­signif­i­cant, and pre­dict that space en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions over the next decade would be sim­i­lar or slightly harsher com­pared to the last decade.


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