Sun reportedly entering ‘Solar Minimum’: What does it mean?

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News:The sun is said to have reached into a state of ‘solar minimum’ as it has been more than 100 days since the sunspots are virtually not visible at all.

Facts:

  • Solar Minimum: It is the period of least solar activity in the 11-year solar cycle of the Sun.During this time, sunspot and solar flare activity diminishes and often does not occur for days at a time.
  • Concerns: It may cause health risks to astronauts travelling through space as the sun’s magnetic field weakens and provides less shielding from these cosmic rays.

Additional Facts:

  • Solar Cycle:It is the cycle that the Sun’s magnetic field goes through approximately every 11 years.
  • Sunspots:
    • These are areas that appear dark on the surface of the Sun.They appear dark because they are cooler than other parts of the Sun’s surface. 
    • The temperature of a sunspot is still very hot though at around 6,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Why are sunspots relatively cool: It’s because they form at areas where magnetic fields are particularly strong.These magnetic fields are so strong that they keep some of the heat within the Sun from reaching the surface.
  • Solar Flares: It is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots.