Feeds

Solar Cycle 24 is go: Official

Sunspot 981, come on down

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
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
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.