- 2013 was due to be year of the ‘solar maximum’
- As this picture shows, in fact the sun is incredibly calm – baffling experts
‘Something unexpected’ is happening on the Sun, Nasa has warned.
This year was supposed to be the year of ‘solar maximum,’ the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle.
But as this image reveals, solar activity is relatively low.
THE SOLAR CYCLE
Conventional wisdom holds that solar activity swings back and forth like a simple pendulum.
At one end of the cycle, there is a quiet time with few sunspots and flares.
At the other end, solar max brings high sunspot numbers and frequent solar storms.
It’s a regular rhythm that repeats every 11 years.
Reality is more complicated.
Astronomers have been counting sunspots for centuries, and they have seen that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular.