The quiet has led some observers to wonder if forecasters missed the mark. Solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center has a different explanation:
"This is solar maximum," he suggests. "But it looks different from what we expected because it is double peaked."
Conventional wisdom holds that solar activity swings back and forth like a simple pendulum. At one end of the cycle, there is a quiet time with few sunspots and flares. At the other end, Solar Max brings high sunspot numbers and solar storms. It’s a regular rhythm that repeats every 11 years.
A new ScienceCast video explores the puzzling behavior of ongoing Solar Cycle 24. Play it
Reality, however, is more complicated. Astronomers have been counting sunspots for centuries, and they have seen that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular. For one thing, the back-and-forth swing in sunspot counts can take anywhere from 10 to 13 years to complete; also, the amplitude of the cycle varies. Some solar maxima are very weak, others very strong.
More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/01mar_twinpeaks/
Source: NASA Science News.
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