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Scientists visualize the Sun mysteries with the help of 400 years of solar observations

A team under the leadership of Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo of the Southwest Research Institute integrated sunspot drawing made by Hevelius in 1644 with images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The variety of observation techniques comes through in the image.
(NASA/SDO/SwRI)

In an effort to better understand the sun in the past, the present and the future, Colombian and Spanish researchers created visualizations that group of the last 400 years of recorded solar observations.

The sun is a churning body with a lot going on. On top of singular episodes as torches, the sun, the experiences of the different cycles that last years, decades and longer. And these chapters in solar activity are full of lulls and highs that affect the Earth in many ways.

“It is a matter of the representation of the historical data, so that people can easily make a judgment, where it can be trusted, where you can strong assertions, and where you need to be cautious about making strong statements,” Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo, lead author of the new work and researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, told Space.com. He and his colleague José Manuel Vaquero of the University of Extremadura in Spain recently published a series of visualizations in the development of a realistic sense of solar activity, and to identify gaps in the knowledge. [How a 19th-Century Teenager, Astronomer, Documented a Rare Solar Flare]

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This week, the data of the spacecraft Voyager 2 confirmed the exit of the heliosphere, the influence of the radiation of the sun around the solar system. The heliosphere is created by the magnetic field of the sun, and the particles are charged, and protects the planets within the incoming cosmic radiation.

The sun is a regular, approximately 11-year cycle shows an influence on the organs within its sphere of influence, according to the new study.

During the cycle of the quiet period, known as solar minimum, the Earth’s outer atmospheric layer can be reduced. This, in turn, can lead to a lingering of the space junk that poses a threat to a mars orbit. And when the sun is on the other side of the season, called solar maximum, sunspots and flares, increase in number, produce powerful solar storms that can disrupt communication systems and even cause a black-out.

“The sun, the seasons if the Earth is in a certain sense, where you have periods of lots of activity and periods of little activity… we call that the space climate,” Muñoz-Jaramillo says.

Muñoz-Jaramillo used in terrestrial weather conditions, seasons and vibrations, such as El Niño in his description of the solar activity.

Singular events, such as flares, are referred to as space weather. A period such as the solar minimum is similar to a solar dry season, and the decadal solar cycles as a whole, which overlap each other and may slightly change in duration, are something of a longer-term El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycles over the Pacific Ocean. [NASA’s Sun-Kissing Solar Probe Survives 1st Flyby of Our Stars]

Watching the sun

Observing the sun is an old human practice; the creation of the deities, such as the sun god Ra from Egypt and of the sun goddess Saulė of the Baltic states are early examples of societies interest. People observe holidays such as Christmas (Dec. 25) and Inti Raymi (Jun. 24), located in the vicinity of the winter solstice to celebrate the start of a new year (the dates correspond to the different hemispheres of the brain).

So when people invented telescopes, it is no surprise that the sun was one of the tool’s key topics. But observations of centuries ago, not exactly as it is today. To compensate for that, the team streamlined the data is to obtain a clearer picture of how the sun moves through its cycles.

“When you try to understand what the sun does for the last 400 years… you have to start with the use of drawings,” Muñoz-Jaramillo says. “You must start with a sunspot the calendars that were made 400 years ago, 300 years ago, 200 years ago. Because people do not understand exactly what they see, the way [that] they were all of these measurements was different… and so it is really hard to put together.”

Muñoz-Jaramillo said he hopes that the team-visualizations, which consist of measurements taken by 17th-century astronomers Johannes Hevelius, Christoph Scheiner, Galileo Galilei and others, showing where future researchers should be careful in making conclusions. A set of observations that still puzzles scientists is the Maunder Minimum, a period of low solar activity that lasted 70 years from 1645-1715. During the Maunder Minimum is a potential “archetype” for the phenomenon of the so-called grand minimum, these observations are less reliable than the current information on the sun, which is the evolutionary dots are harder to connect to.

Muñoz-Jaramillo added that he hopes that they work makes of all this data (and in the correct context) much more accessible to those studying long-term solar variability.

The new work is worked out on Monday (Dec. 10) in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Original article on Space.com.

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