The Sun Is Being Weird. It Could Be Because We’re Looking at It All Wrong

Something weird is going on with the Sun.

So far, almost every day in 2022 it has erupted in flares and coronal mass ejections, some of which were the most powerful eruptions our star is capable of.

By itself, an erupting Sun is not weird. It erupts regularly as it goes through periods of high and low activity, in cycles that last roughly 11 years.

The current activity is significantly higher than the official NASA and NOAA predictions for the current solar cycle, and solar activity has consistently exceeded predictions as far back as September 2020. But a solar scientist will tell you that even this isn’t all that weird.

“We can’t reliably predict solar cycles,” solar astrophysicist Michael Wheatland of the University of Sydney, Australia told ScienceAlert.

“We don’t completely understand the solar dynamo, which generates the magnetic fields seen at the surface as sunspots, and which produce flares. This is one of the outstanding problems in astrophysics; the inaccuracy in the prediction is unsurprising.”

Unsurprising, sure. But what if that very lack of surprise – that we expect to be bad at predicting solar cycles – means we need to completely rethink how we do it? What if we’re basing our predictions on the wrong metric?

From 11 to 22 years

Solar cycles have a huge impact on the Solar System but …

To read the rest of this article please click here