Scientists Say The Sun Is Dimming. Should We Worry?

We wouldn’t survive a millisecond without the sun’s energy. Although the sun is indispensable, most of us are oblivious to what’s happening 93 million miles away on its surface.

But you’re going to want to pay attention to these recent solar discoveries and what they mean for life on earth.

 

1. Lately, The Sun Has Been Getting Clearer


NASA

Recent measurements show that the sun is remarkably clear. By clear, we are talking about the lack of sunspots. Sunspots are dark spots that are visible on the surface of the sun, and each spot has less brightness than the surrounding surface. But surprisingly, the lack of spots does not mean that the sun is getting brighter.

 

2. Even Though It’s Getting Clearer, The Sun Is Also Dimming


Pixabay / Creative Commons

The scientists observing the sunspots also noted that the sun appears to be dimming slightly. The sun’s luminosity, or brightness, has been tracked since the 90’s. Scientists believe that there is a natural luminosity cycle, and the sun may be in a period of dimming. But, how can they accurately observe these small variations in solar brightness?

 

3. Up In The Sky, A Flying Data Collection Machine


NASA

One of the many purposes of the International Space Station is to make observations of activity throughout our solar system. The ISS measures all sorts of space weather, much of which is created by activity on the sun. Solar wind, the interplanetary magnetic field, solar flare-ups, all emanate from the sun. But its measure of luminosity can profoundly affect life on earth.

 

4. Solar Clarity And Dimness Correlate


NASA / SDO

As can be seen in this NASA chart, the number of sunspots and total solar irradiance (TSI) fluctuate in a pattern. Currently, the number of sunspots is at a low point. TSI is accordingly at a low level, which means that it is dimmed. And the sunspot reduction is part of an overall trend.

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