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Solar Winds at Record Low

Not only are sunspots at a record low, so is the solar wind. The stream of charged particles blowing out of the sun is at its lowest point for 50 years.

In BBC News, Jonathan Amos quotes researcher Dave McComas as saying, "This is a whole sun phenomenon. The entire Sun is blowing significantly less hard?about 20-25% less hard?than it was during the last solar minimum 10-15 years ago.

"That's a very significant change. In fact, the solar wind we're seeing now is blowing the least hard we've see it for a prolonged time, since the start of those observations in the 1960s at the start of the space age."

Is this good or bad? It's NOT a good time for space travel: Amos quotes researcher Nancy Crooker as saying, "The Sun also puts out cosmic rays in the form of bursts and these bursts are much less frequent at solar minimum. However, when they do occur at solar minimum, they are more lethal, so this is not a good time to be travelling in space owning to both kinds of cosmic rays."

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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