The sun‘s surface has gone completely “blank” without any sunspots.
Resent NASA images show no evidence of dark cores on the sun’s surface representing sunspots.
It is the fourth time this year that the star has gone “blank” with sunspot activity at its lowest rate for 10,000 years.
There is also a sharp decline in solar activity which may herald the start of a new ice age by 2019.
The Daily Star reports:
Sunspot activity is like a pendulum, swinging back and forth within a period of 11 or 12 years, according to SpaceWeather.
But experts say solar activity is falling more rapidly than any time in the last 10,000 years.
The last time sunspots vanished at such a rapid rate was during a centuries-long ice age that began in the 15th century.
This period – which saw the Thames River in London freeze over and widespread starvation due to crop failures – is known as the Maunder Minimum.
With the sunspot cycle expected to hit rock bottom by 2019, space boffins believe we could be heading for another big chill.
A spokesperson for SpaceWeather said: “Right now the pendulum is swinging toward low sunspot numbers.
“Forecasters expect the the cycle to hit rock bottom in 2019-2020.
“Between now and then, there will be lots of spotless suns.
“At first, the blank stretches will be measured in days; later in weeks and months.
“The current blank spell is the 4th such interval of 2016, so far.”
It comes after meteorologist Paul Dorian warned that the sharp decline in solar activity could be a sign another ice age is coming.
He said: “If history is any guide, it is safe to say that weak solar activity for a prolonged period of time can have a cooling impact on global temperatures in the troposphere which is the bottom most layer of Earth’s atmosphere—and where we all live.”
Research from Professor Valentina Zharkov of Northumbria University also suggested a similar cold snap could hit Earth between 2020 and 2050.
He said: “I am absolutely confident in our research. It has good mathematical background and reliable data, which has been handled correctly.
“In fact, our results can be repeated by any researchers with the similar data available in many solar observatories, so they can derive their own evidence of upcoming Maunder Minimum in solar magnetic field and activity.”
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