Solar Max Appears to Fizzle; Scientists Predict Double Peak

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This solar flare, recorded by NASA's TRACE satellite in July 2012, shows more activity than we've seen from the Sun lately (Credits: NASA).

This solar flare, recorded by NASA’s TRACE satellite in July 2012, shows more activity than we’ve seen from the Sun lately (Credits: NASA).

During 2012, an array of active sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections kept reminding everyone of the upcoming solar maximum in 2013. Now a couple months into 2013, the Sun does not seem to be delivering the goods. It seems unlikely with the current low solar activity level that a cyclical peak will apear, as originally predicted, in May 2013.

Some scientists, however, think we’re just seeing the valley between two peaks. This would not be the first such phenomenon: the prior two maxima were also double peaked. It’s not clear yet if this is actually the case and if so whether  the peaks will occur late 2013 and 2015 or already past in 2012 with a second coming in 2014. Or, predictions could just be off the mark this cycle, which wouldn’t be surprising considering that the extreme solar minimum in 2007 augured a weak maximum in any event.

Learn more in the latest from NASA’s ScienceCasts:

 

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