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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another ‘Little Ice Age’ coming?: Sun's Fading Spots Signal Big Drop in Solar Activity

Solar activity extremely quiet; Lack of sunspots could lead to second 'Maunder Minimum' last seen in 1645

by Denise Chow, SPACE.com Staff Writer

Date: 14 June 2011 Time: 03:50 PM ET

 

A photo of a sunspot taken in May 2010, with Earth shown to scale. The image has been colorized for  aesthetic reasons. This image with 0.1 arcsecond resolution from the Swedish 1-m Solar  Telescope represents the limit of what is currently possible in te

A photo of a sunspot taken in May 2010, with Earth shown to scale. The image has been colorized for aesthetic reasons. This image with 0.1 arcsecond resolution from the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope represents the limit of what is currently possible in terms of spatial resolution.
CREDIT: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, V.M.J. Henriques (sunspot), NASA Apollo 17 (Earth)

View full size image

This story was updated at 3:54 p.m. EDT.

Some unusual solar readings, including fading sunspots and weakening magnetic activity near the poles, could be indications that our sun is preparing to be less active in the coming years.

The results of three separate studies seem to show that even as the current sunspot cycle swells toward the solar maximum, the sun could be heading into a more-dormant period, with activity during the next 11-year sunspot cycle greatly reduced or even eliminated.

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