It is well-known that the Sun completes a full solar cycle every 11 years, with a new one starting immediately after. Solar cycles are interesting for researchers as events that take place on the surface of the star, like solar flares and coronal mass ejections, can affect the power grids, satellites, airlines, and others.
According to researchers, the new solar cycle began in December 2019. However, since the activity of the Sun can vary wildly, up to ten months are needed to calculate when a new solar cycle starts.
Solar Cycle 25
Current predictions infer that the new solar cycle will be quite similar to the previous one, with the solar maximum, or the moment of peak solar activity, taking place in July 2025. During the maximum solar eruptions can be considerably more powerful, affecting sensitive technology found on Earth.
The previous solar cycle was the weakest cycle in 100 years, and the fourth weakest cycle since solar cycles are being tracked. However, the risk of extreme space weather persists even in this case, and the researchers observed more than 120 sunspots, each marking the place where an eruption started.
Becoming more active
At the start of a new solar cycle, the Sun is calm, but it will become more active as the solar maximum approaches. During the moment of peak activity, the magnetic poles of the Sun will flip, and the star will become calmer as the solar minimum begins.
Space weather predictions will play an important role soon as NASA continues to work on the Artemis program. One of the aims of the agency is to establish a permanent outpost on the Moon, which could offer the opportunity to study space weather more closely and to uncover new information. The Gateway, as the outpost is known, will also be used to test foods, drugs, and other items that could be influenced by space weather.