While we on are under lockdown due to coronavirus, it would appear that were are not the only ones! The Sun seems to be having a lockdown all of its own. According to a report by Forbes, it has already been 100 days in 2020 when our Sun has displayed zero sunspots.
That makes 2020 the second consecutive year of a record-setting low number of sunspots.
According to SpaceWeather.com:
This is a sign that solar minimum is underway… So far this year, the Sun has been blank 76% of the time, a rate surpassed only once before in the Space Age. Last year, the Sun was blank 77% of the time. Two consecutive years of record-setting spotlessness adds up to a very deep solar minimum, indeed.
For the laymen, a sunspot is an area of intense magnetic activity on the surface of the Sun, a storm that appears as an area of darkness. These are ‘indicative of solar activity, birthing solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs)’. Although they look like tiny specks to us, they can be ungodly in size.
Sunspots have been counted each day since 1838, allowing scientists to describe a pattern in the wax and wane of activity on the Sun’s surface—the solar cycle.
The current record-breaking solar minimum is part of a longer pattern of wax and wane. It is believed that the Sun may have been in a magnetic lull for the last 9,000 years at least.