Solar Orbiter shows a rapid increase in solar activity

ESA has published a few images of the Sun, taken two years apart. They clearly demonstrate the process of increasing its activity.

The photos were taken by the Solar Orbiter probe studying the Sun in the ultraviolet range. They depict the upper part of the atmosphere of our star, the temperature of which is about a million degrees. The first image is dated February 2021. The second is October 2023.

The images clearly demonstrate how much solar activity has increased. In 2021, the Sun was still relatively calm and there were few spots on it. By the end of 2023, the situation had changed radically. We can see a much larger number of bright flares, dark sunspots, plasma loops and vortices of super-hot gas. 

A typical solar activity cycle lasts about 11 years. It is caused by the “solar dynamo”, a process that generates the magnetic field of a star. At the beginning of the cycle (solar minimum), activity is relatively low, and there are few spots on the Sun. It will steadily increase until it reaches a peak (solar maximum), and then decreases again to a minimum.

The Sun is now approaching another maximum, which is expected to come in 2025. However, given the sharp increase in its activity, some researchers believe that it may occur a year earlier than expected.

According to

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