SOLAR CYCLE (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Geography)

News-CRUX-10     24th May 2024        
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Context: Scientists have long held the belief that the Sun's potent magnetic field, which triggers solar storms affecting Earth, originates deep within the star.

Solar Cycle

  • About: It is the cycle that the Sun’s magnetic field goes through approximately every 11 years.
  • Magnetic Field Generation: This charged gas moves, generating a powerful magnetic field.

o The Sun's magnetic field goes through a cycle, called the solar cycle.

o Every 11 years or so, the Sun's magnetic field completely flips.

o It takes about another 11 years for the Sun’s north and south poles to flip back again.

  • Effects on Sun's Surface:

o The solar cycle affects activity on the surface of the Sun, such as sunspots caused by the Sun's magnetic fields.

o The middle of the solar cycle is the solar maximum, characterized by the most sunspots.

o As the cycle ends, it fades back to the solar minimum, signaling the start of a new cycle.

  • Solar Eruptions: Giant eruptions on the Sun, like solar flares and coronal mass ejections, increase during the solar cycle.

o These eruptions send powerful bursts of energy and material into space.

  • Effects on Earth: Solar activity can impact Earth, causing phenomena like auroras or affecting radio communications.

o Extreme eruptions can even disrupt electricity grids on Earth.

  • Variation in Cycles: Some cycles have maximums with lots of sunspots and activity, while others have very few sunspots and little activity.
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