Monday, August 13, 2012
The solar maximum is a time period in which the activity of the sun reaches a relative maximum. As the sun begins to reach it's solar maximum, it's total power output per square meter increases proportionally to the number of solar flares and sunspots. Despite the dramatic change in solar activity the power change is only a 0.1% increase from the solar minimum. After the sun reaches this point of maximum activity it continues the eleven year cycle back to a minimum. The next solar maximum is due to arrive sometime in February 2013, so solar activity is on the rise.
How the Solar Cycle Works
The solar cycle is nothing new, it has been happening since the birth of our sun and occurs because of the magnetic field lines of the sun. As the sun rotates, the poles magnetic field lines move at a slightly slower pace then the magnetic fields in the middle of the sun. As the magnetic field lines become distorted solar activity increases. When the lines reach a maximum distortion point, solar activity is at a maximum and it is called the solar maximum. After the solar maximum, the magnetic field lines begin to reassemble themselves and solar activity declines. This is the cause of the eleven year solar cycle that causes large solar flares and sunspots.
How it will affect us
The upcoming solar maximum the sun is steadily climbing toward could have some dramatic effects on electronics and satellites. Although the increased solar activity can effect electronics such as gps and possibly power grids, the Earth's magnetosphere should block most of the harmful rays emitted by the sun. The recent huge power outage in India could be the result of the increased solar activity, specifically a mid-level solar flare emitted this past weekend. Another affect of the solar maximum is the increased area and likelihood of viewing aurora farther from the poles. Aurora is the natural phenomenon usually only visible near the poles in which charged particles affect the magnetosphere to create a glowing “aurora” in the sky. The increased power output of the sun does offer a slight increase in the amount of energy viable to solar panels, but it is only a 0.1% increase. The solar maximum will most likely have no direct effects on you but the solar flares can cause problems with electronics.
Written By Al Core: Solar Enthusist and Master of Solar information