The sun should roar back to life sometime in 2013, producing its second activity peak in the last two years, scientists say.
Our star has been surprisingly quiet since unleashing a flurry of flares and other eruptions toward the end of 2011. But this lull is likely the trough between two peaks that together constitute "solar maximum" for the sun's current 11-year activity cycle, researchers say.
"If you look back in history, many of the previous solar cycles don't have one hump, one maximum, but in fact have two," solar physicist C. Alex Young, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said today (March 22) during a NASA webcast called "Solar MAX Storm Warning: Effects on the Solar System."
"That's what we think is going to happen," Young added. "So we've reached one of those humps, and we think that eventually activity will pick back up and we'll see another hump — a double-humped solar maximum."more