Feeds

Solar Cycle 24 is go: Official

Sunspot 981, come on down

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Scientists are poised to confirm that a "modest knot" of high-latitude, reversed-polarity magnetism spotted last December on the Sun has become a full-blown sunspot heralding the beginning of Solar Cycle 24:

NASA image of Sun showing magnetically-reversed high-latitude active region

The sunspot, dubbed 981, marks the end of a lull in sunspot activity as Solar Cycle 23 passed away quietly, having peaked with "many furious storms" during solar maximum in 2000-2003:

NASA graph of number of sunspots between 1994 and now

Opinion is divided as to whether the predicted solar maximum of Cycle 24 in 2011 or 2012 will be a modest affair or have "significant impacts on telecommunications, air traffic, power grids and GPS systems". If it's the latter, you may well have to rely on a map to get you to the best spot to enjoy one of the spin-off effects of ferocious solar activity - the free aurora lightshows.

Solar cycles end as sunspots migrate towards the sun's equator to die. The first sign of the next cycle is a new "high-latitude" sunspot, at around 25 to 30 degrees latitude, and whose magnetic polarity is the reverse of those of the previous cycle.

The transition between cycles, which sees a reversal of the sun's global magnetic field, is not an overnight affair. Sunspots of the old cycle gradually disappear while those of the new regime grow in numbers, and both can co-exist during the handover marking the end of the average 11-year cycle. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.