The sun is in the currently in its quietest period for more than a century.
Astronomers say this isn’t unusual, and solar activity waxes and wanes in 11-year cycles, and we’re currently in Cycle 24, which began in 2008.
However, if the current trend continues, then the Earth could be headed for a ‘mini ice age’ researchers have warned.
The sun is in the currently in its quietest period for more than a century. For the second time this month, the sun has gone into ‘cue ball’ mode, with images from Nasa showing no large visible sunspots on its surface
We’ve had the smallest number of sunspots in this cycle since Cycle 14, which reached its maximum in February of 1906.
On June 4th, the sun went completely spotless and activity remained low for around four days.
This follows another period of inactivity in February when another image of Nasa showed the sun in ‘cueball mode’.
‘The blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an increasing number of spotless days over the next few years,’ wrote Vencore Weather.
The previous solar cycle, Solar Cycle 23, peaked in 2000-2002 with many furious solar storms.
During Solar Max, huge sunspots and intense solar flares are a daily occurrence. Auroras appear in Florida. Radiation storms knock out satellites.
The last such episode took place in the years around 2000-2001.
During Solar Minimum, the opposite occurs. Solar flares are almost non-existent while whole weeks go by without a single, tiny sunspot to break the monotony of the blank sun. This is what we are experiencing now.
This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the ‘Little Ice Age’ when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes.
There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past, Nasa says.