The sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle of activity, sometimes becoming more active and sometimes less. We are going through an uptick in its current cycle, called Solar Cycle 25, in which the sun is predicted to be more active. But so far in this cycle, the activity of the sun it is even surpassing these predictions.
What writes NASA, the Solar Cycle 25 began in December 2019 and activity has been increasing ever since. The activity is timed to peak in a period called solar maximum, set for 2025, but even before then the sun is making its presence felt. Increased solar activity can affect Earth in the form of space weather, with solar flares and coronal mass ejections sending charged particles from the sun and through the solar system, impacting satellites and communication systems here on Earth.
Is recent image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar flare emitted by the sun on May 10, 2022. It has this color because the instrument records in the extreme ultraviolet range, beyond the range of visible light. The flare is the bright point seen in the lower half of the sun.
These types of events will become more common throughout the solar cycle. “The Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, an international group of experts co-sponsored by NASA and NOAA, predicted that this would be a below-average solar cycle, like the previous one: Solar Cycle 24,” NASA writes. “However, the Sun has been much more active this cycle than anticipated.”
This activity affects Earth when charged particles reach our planet and interact with the atmosphere, creating auroras. But these particles not only create attractive effects, they can also cause problems for satellites, which can lead to communication problems. Space weather can also be potentially dangerous for astronauts, such as those on the International Space Station, and can even have health problems for the crew and passengers flying on planes.