Solar activity research provides insight into sun's past, future

SwRI solar activity research provides insight into sun's past, future
A team led by SwRI integrated a sunspot drawing made by Hevelius in 1644 (top) with images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory to illustrate how widely varying telescopes and observation techniques can affect data. The team integrated data from 700 observations to assess the reliability of historical data, to better understand the history of solar activity. Credit: NASA/SDO/SwRI

Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo of Southwest Research Institute and José Manuel Vaquero of the University of Extremadura have developed a new technique for looking at historic solar data to distinguish trustworthy observations from those that should be used with care. This work is critical to understanding the Sun's past and future as well as whether solar activity plays a role in climate change.

"Scientists have been monitoring solar activity since Galileo made the first drawings in 1612 by counting sunspots and groups of sunspots," said SwRI's Dr. Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo, a senior research scientist who is first author of a paper in Nature Astronomy outlining the research. "However, putting all observations in perspective is quite challenging due to wide-ranging observation techniques and telescope magnifications used. We see much more now and our understanding of what we see changes the way we count spots."

The team created a technique that takes all historic data gathered and digitized thus far and combines them visually, to provide a complete picture of the data we have and where are we missing information. Roughly every 11 years, the magnetic structure and activity of the Sun cycle between periods known as and solar maximum. During solar maximum, the Sun emits high levels of solar radiation, ejects large amounts solar material and displays large numbers of intense sunspots, flares and other phenomena. During solar minimum, this activity is muted. Changes on the Sun cause effects in space, in the atmosphere and on Earth's surface.

The Sun also experiences century-long variations, including periods of abnormally low solar activity called grand minima. Maunder Minimum refers to a 70-year period between 1645 and 1715 when observations revealed thousands of days without sunspots. The term was the title of a 1976 paper that first identified these longer cycles, named for a husband-wife team of solar astronomers from the late 17th century. In contrast, modern observations typically record hundreds of days without sunspots over similar periods of time.

"Scientists are investigating whether Maunder Minimum could serve as archetype of a grand minimum in magnetic activity for the Sun and other stars," Muñoz said. However, data prior to, during and after the Maunder Minimum, is less reliable and lacks the precision and coverage of today's measurements. Recent reevaluations of sunspot observations have yielded a conflicted view on the evolution of solar over the last 400 years.

"Due to our lack coverage we don't know if the Sun took decades to recover from the Maunder Minimum to the levels of we see today, or if it was quick as if a switch had been turned on," Muñoz said. "There is currently a team of experts from all over the world working hard to find the best way of combining these data. In the meantime, one has to be very careful when using historic data to study potential links between the Sun and changes in terrestrial climate, given that these effects would be complex and subtle. Our work uses historical data to provide context to users of these estimates that may not be aware of their limitations."


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More information: Visualization of the challenges and limitations of the long-term sunspot number record , Nature Astronomy, DOI: 10.1038/s41550-018-0638-2 , https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-018-0638-2
Journal information: Nature Astronomy

Citation: Solar activity research provides insight into sun's past, future (2018, December 10) retrieved 24 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-solar-insight-sun-future.html
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Dec 10, 2018
This work is critical to understanding the Sun's past and future as well as whether solar activity plays a role in climate change.

LOL, of course solar activity plays a role in "climate change". Only a moron would say otherwise.

Dec 10, 2018
@cantthink69 doesn't believe in sunspots.

Dec 10, 2018
Only a moron would say otherwise.

And she responds by saying;
"@cantthink69 doesn't believe in sunspots."
Clearly trolling, get a hobby da schnied.

Dec 10, 2018
one has to be very careful when using historic sunspot data to study potential links between the Sun and changes in terrestrial climate, given that these effects would be complex and subtle


Subtle is not the word I would use to describe 1degC+ temp fluctuation, but it's hard to speak truthfully when you're worried about your career.

Dec 10, 2018
This work is critical to understanding the Sun's past and future as well as whether solar activity plays a role in climate change.

LOL, of course solar activity plays a role in "climate change". Only a moron would say otherwise.


Lol. This from an eejit who thinks the Sun is a giant lightbulb!

Dec 10, 2018
one has to be very careful when using historic sunspot data to study potential links between the Sun and changes in terrestrial climate, given that these effects would be complex and subtle


Subtle is not the word I would use to describe 1degC+ temp fluctuation, but it's hard to speak truthfully when you're worried about your career.


Oh, it isn't them worried about their careers. It is the oil company execs who are shitting themselves that ever more people will dump their products in favour of something greener. Or that governments will impose ever more punitive levies on their products. So, they need to buy politicians, and convince the hard of thinking that there is no effect from their product. Some people are dumb enough to buy that propaganda.

Dec 10, 2018
Oh, it isn't them worried about their careers.

It's exactly that, move with the herd or get trampled.

I want green technology as much as the next tree hugger, but lying to get there is a tactic that I don't support.

Dec 10, 2018
Oh, it isn't them worried about their careers.

It's exactly that, move with the herd or get trampled.

I want green technology as much as the next tree hugger, but lying to get there is a tactic that I don't support.


Really? And what are your qualifications for calling thousands of real, decent scientists liars? Nope, you are just another scientifically illiterate, conspiracist nutjob. Ten a penny, those wankers.

Dec 10, 2018
And what are your qualifications for calling thousands of real, decent scientists liars?

They are people, and unlike your belief they don't belong on a pedestal. They lie just like cops, judges, politicians, clergy and every facet of the population.

Dec 10, 2018
And what are your qualifications

I could give them to you, but you wouldn't believe it anyways so what's it matter? You are part of the herd just moving along, thinking our "knowledge" is vast. Really yall are just scared that you've been wrong the whole time and aren't mature enough to accept and move on.

That's fine you don't deserve to be part of the change

Dec 10, 2018
And what are your qualifications for calling thousands of real, decent scientists liars?

They are people, and unlike your belief they don't belong on a pedestal. They lie just like cops, judges, politicians, clergy and every facet of the population.


Idiot. Thousands of them? To what end, you conspiracist loon? Do you think they have all got shares in solar or wind? Have a look at the deniers. What have they got shares in? Who is backing them financially? Including bent politicians in the U.S.

Dec 10, 2018
And what are your qualifications

I could give them to you, but you wouldn't believe it anyways so what's it matter? You are part of the herd just moving along, thinking our "knowledge" is vast. Really yall are just scared that you've been wrong the whole time and aren't mature enough to accept and move on.

That's fine you don't deserve to be part of the change


So, as suspected, you are yet another scientifically illiterate oil industry apologist? Hey ho, expected no different. Nothing to back up your assertions about them lying. That is why you post on here, isn't it?

Dec 10, 2018
another scientifically illiterate oil industry apologist?


Uh that would be a no on both accounts, did you just ignore the part where I said I wanted green energy? I work in automotive designing powertrains for hybrid and electric vehicles, so the greener the better you shill

Dec 10, 2018
Lol. This from an eejit who thinks the Sun is a giant lightbulb!

Trollin', trollin', trollin',
Trollin', trollin', trollin',
Trollin', trollin', trollin',
Da schnied

They trollin', trollin', trollin'...
Though jonesdumb is from colon,
Keep them puppies trollin',
Da schnied

Dec 11, 2018
Well, these facts, observations & collected data are a problem for all the varities & vanities of churchnuts.
Their stench...
Whoops! I meant "staunch".
Yes I did. ahem

Their staunchly obdurate doctrines are infallible.
When their beliefs are contradicted by reality?
We must all bow to their delusions of omniscience.

Or?

Burn!
In this world & the next.

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