Research NewsSolar Physics

Bold Prediction Downplays the Sun's Next Peak

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Science  14 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5302, pp. 927
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5302.927

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Conventional methods for predicting the next peak in the sun's magnetic cycle, due around 2000, suggest it will be the most intense in history. That could be bad news for space agencies and satellite operators, because the flares and magnetic storms of a solar maximum are a threat to spacecraft. But a new technique, based on the physics of the solar cycle, says that the sun's current magnetic state foreshadows only a modest peak, the lowest in decades.