posted on Jan, 12 2010 @ 07:25 PM
Sun May Soon Send Magnetic Storms Toward Earth
January 11, 2010
Associated Press Writer
BOULDER, Colo.—The sun may finally be awakening from its longest quiet period in about a century and powering up to solar maximum, when it could
fling disruptive electromagnetic storms toward Earth.
But once the sun does ramp up, it could be a relatively quiet solar maximum, with a below-average number of eruptions, scientists say.
Some researchers argue the sun has begun to enter solar maximum; others say it's not there yet. They do agree the current quiet period, or solar
minimum, is the longest since the early 1900s, but they don't know why.
"For the average person or for a technological society like ours, a hundred years is a pretty long time," said Dan Baker, director of the Laboratory
for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado.
A solar cycle usually lasts about 11 years, measured from one low point to the next. The most recent started about 13 years ago, in 1996.
Scientists won't declare the quiet period over until after a sustained stretch of activity, generally about three months, said Frank Eparvier, a
scientist at the space physics lab.
"We've increased a little bit and had some strong active regions," Eparvier said, but it hasn't been long enough to say solar maximum has