If you think aliens and a pandemic are the end of it, the planet—and the universe—has got more subplots to throw at us. Today in yet another set of wild 2020 news, the giant star called the sun is currently asleep and experiencing its own kind of “lockdown.”
According to Forbes and Spaceweather.com, the sun hasn’t shown any sunspots in 100 days, which makes 2020 “the second consecutive year of a record-setting low number of sunspots.” A sunspot is an area of magnetic activity on the surface of the sun, which plays a huge part in birthing solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Zero sunspots mean a “solar minimum,” which is part of the solar cycle and occurs every 11 years. But what makes this one unique is that it’s been going for quite a while—counting it as a “very deep” solar minimum. An infamous incident of this happened way back between 1645 to 1715.
What does this mean for Earth? That has been an ongoing debate. Some scientists and researchers say that this causes earthquakes and drastic weather changes, while others say it has very little impact on our planet. According to Unilad, scientists have linked past solar minimums to major drops in the planet’s temperature, like the “little ice age” of the 1600s. In a 2011 study, scientist M. Taveres linked the solar cycle to earthquakes, and how there were fewer of them during past solar minimums.
Read more: So, the Arctic Ocean has chlamydia now. We hate 2020 so far
So, yes, it’s still up in the air whether solar minimums are the future cause of the apocalypse or not. As for NASA, the one thing they did find during solar minimums was an “increased number of galactic cosmic rays,” which is bad for astronauts, but harmless for humans on Earth—we have the planet’s magnetic field protecting us.
Maybe solar minimums aren’t the reason to panic just yet—2020’s got other things for us to choose. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
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Photo courtesy of NASA