The Mystery of the New Solar Cycle
|Prof. Lawrence Pinsky
||University of Houston
The Sun is a giant ball of differentially rotating plasma. Like all plasmas it is intimately involved in generating magnetic fields. These fields become complex and twisted by the differential rotation in such a way that they wind up and re-orient themselves roughly every 11 years or so. Virtually all of the so-called “Solar Weather” events such as sunspots are associated with this phenomenon known as the “Solar Cycle.” The potential impact on human civilization of variations in this cyclic behavior is significant. Recent changes observed in the Sun over the last few years including an unpredicted deep and long “Solar Minimum” in sunspot activity have been interpreted as signaling an impending shift in the Solar Cycle that may be very substantial. As such, detailed observations of the Sun over the coming Solar Cycle will be of increasing importance.