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July 12, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn, This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
Those of us who have been paying attention to the sun this year have been a little ... disappointed. 2013 was supposed to be the year of solar maximum -- the peak of an 11-year cycle when the number of sunspots that mar the sun's surface is at its highest. These sunspots, which are actually cool areas on the sun's surface caused by intense magnetic activity, are the sites of spectacular solar flares and CMEs, or coronal mass ejections, which can send billions of tons of solar material hurtling into space.
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SCIENCE
July 12, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn, This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
Those of us who have been paying attention to the sun this year have been a little ... disappointed. 2013 was supposed to be the year of solar maximum -- the peak of an 11-year cycle when the number of sunspots that mar the sun's surface is at its highest. These sunspots, which are actually cool areas on the sun's surface caused by intense magnetic activity, are the sites of spectacular solar flares and CMEs, or coronal mass ejections, which can send billions of tons of solar material hurtling into space.
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SCIENCE
September 19, 2009 | Times Staff and Wire Reports
The sun can lash the Earth with powerful winds that can disrupt communications, aviation and power lines even when it is in the quiet phase of its 11-year solar cycle, U.S. scientists report. The Earth was bombarded with intense solar winds last year despite an unusually quiet phase for the sun, said the study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. And the prevalence of high-speed streams during the solar minimum in 2008 appeared to be related to the sun's current structure.
SCIENCE
July 10, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
Scientists working on NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer mission have nabbed their first direct glimpse of the so-called heliotail, the long trailing edge of the solar wind. Much to their surprise, three years of data from IBEX, as the Earth-orbiting craft is known, showed that the tail has a sort of clover shape, with separate "lobes" of faster- and slower-moving solar wind. The scientists detailed their discovery in a study in the Astrophysical Journal and during an online news media event ( video available here )
SCIENCE
May 10, 2013 | By Amy Hubbard
The sun is ramping up toward solar maximum -- the white-hot peak of activity in an 11-year cycle -- and NASA has been snapping images of the phenomenon every 12 seconds for three years. The space agency put together a three-minute video showing images taken by the Solar Dynamic Observatory since spring 2010. As the Los Angeles Times' Deborah Netburn reported last month, the NASA video stitches together two SDO images per day over the three-year period. Alex Young, a heliophysicist at Goddard Space Flight Center, narrates the video to point up some of the sun's best-of moments in that time frame.
NATIONAL
March 8, 2012 | By Amy Hubbard
"The shock has arrived!" At about 5:45 a.m. Eastern time Thursday, the geomagnetic storm from a massive solar flare that rippled the surface of the sun on Tuesday night finally reached the Earth's atmosphere. The Facebook page for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NWS Space Weather Prediction Center made the announcement. But so far, the storm has been a bit of a dud. That's good news for people who like their GPS accurate and their flights on time.
SCIENCE
May 13, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
The sun erupted for the second time in less than 24 hours Monday morning, releasing the most powerful solar flare so far of 2013. Monday's solar flare, which peaked at 9 a.m. Pacific time, came just 14 hours after the second largest solar flare of 2013, which occurred on Sunday evening. A solar flare is a huge explosion in the sun's atmosphere that sends out a burst of radiation. The Earth's atmosphere protects us from that radiation, but some satellites could be affected.
SCIENCE
June 15, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
The next 11-year cycle of increased sunspot activity, scheduled to begin around 2020, may be delayed for a couple of years and have a reduced magnitude — or it may not occur at all, researchers said Tuesday. Three different lines of evidence suggest that the sun, which is expected to reach its maximum sunspot and magnetic activity in the current cycle sometime in 2013, might even enter a prolonged quiet period similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, a 70-year stretch from 1645 to 1715 in which virtually no sunspots were observed.
NATIONAL
March 7, 2012 | By Amy Hubbard
A powerful solar flare Tuesday evening caused the surface of the sun to shudder. A second smaller flare followed about an hour later, and the blasts caused by those flares have hurled a “big blob of magnetized material” toward Earth. So says Alex Young, solar physicist at NASA Goddard, who spoke with The Times on Wednesday about the flares and their predicted impact . The results of the coming geomagnetic storm may be pleasant -- auroras as far south as Illinois -- or unpleasant, such as GPS and communications problems, according to Young.
SCIENCE
April 24, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Thanks to NASA, you can now stare at the sun for three minutes straight. No, don't run outside and look up. Instead, check out the clip above that condenses three years of sun images into a hypnotic three-minute video that shows our closest star rotating on its axis, radiating energy and light. The images in the video were taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a NASA satellite that launched three years ago in 2010, with the express purpose of helping scientists better understand the sun and how its magnetic fields shift and change.  To that end, the Solar Dynamics Observatory is constantly monitoring the sun, including snapping an image of it every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths.
SCIENCE
May 13, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
The sun erupted for the second time in less than 24 hours Monday morning, releasing the most powerful solar flare so far of 2013. Monday's solar flare, which peaked at 9 a.m. Pacific time, came just 14 hours after the second largest solar flare of 2013, which occurred on Sunday evening. A solar flare is a huge explosion in the sun's atmosphere that sends out a burst of radiation. The Earth's atmosphere protects us from that radiation, but some satellites could be affected.
SCIENCE
May 10, 2013 | By Amy Hubbard
The sun is ramping up toward solar maximum -- the white-hot peak of activity in an 11-year cycle -- and NASA has been snapping images of the phenomenon every 12 seconds for three years. The space agency put together a three-minute video showing images taken by the Solar Dynamic Observatory since spring 2010. As the Los Angeles Times' Deborah Netburn reported last month, the NASA video stitches together two SDO images per day over the three-year period. Alex Young, a heliophysicist at Goddard Space Flight Center, narrates the video to point up some of the sun's best-of moments in that time frame.
SCIENCE
April 24, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Thanks to NASA, you can now stare at the sun for three minutes straight. No, don't run outside and look up. Instead, check out the clip above that condenses three years of sun images into a hypnotic three-minute video that shows our closest star rotating on its axis, radiating energy and light. The images in the video were taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a NASA satellite that launched three years ago in 2010, with the express purpose of helping scientists better understand the sun and how its magnetic fields shift and change.  To that end, the Solar Dynamics Observatory is constantly monitoring the sun, including snapping an image of it every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths.
NATIONAL
March 8, 2012 | By Amy Hubbard
"The shock has arrived!" At about 5:45 a.m. Eastern time Thursday, the geomagnetic storm from a massive solar flare that rippled the surface of the sun on Tuesday night finally reached the Earth's atmosphere. The Facebook page for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NWS Space Weather Prediction Center made the announcement. But so far, the storm has been a bit of a dud. That's good news for people who like their GPS accurate and their flights on time.
NATIONAL
March 7, 2012 | By Amy Hubbard
A powerful solar flare Tuesday evening caused the surface of the sun to shudder. A second smaller flare followed about an hour later, and the blasts caused by those flares have hurled a “big blob of magnetized material” toward Earth. So says Alex Young, solar physicist at NASA Goddard, who spoke with The Times on Wednesday about the flares and their predicted impact . The results of the coming geomagnetic storm may be pleasant -- auroras as far south as Illinois -- or unpleasant, such as GPS and communications problems, according to Young.
SCIENCE
June 15, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
The next 11-year cycle of increased sunspot activity, scheduled to begin around 2020, may be delayed for a couple of years and have a reduced magnitude — or it may not occur at all, researchers said Tuesday. Three different lines of evidence suggest that the sun, which is expected to reach its maximum sunspot and magnetic activity in the current cycle sometime in 2013, might even enter a prolonged quiet period similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, a 70-year stretch from 1645 to 1715 in which virtually no sunspots were observed.
SCIENCE
July 10, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
Scientists working on NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer mission have nabbed their first direct glimpse of the so-called heliotail, the long trailing edge of the solar wind. Much to their surprise, three years of data from IBEX, as the Earth-orbiting craft is known, showed that the tail has a sort of clover shape, with separate "lobes" of faster- and slower-moving solar wind. The scientists detailed their discovery in a study in the Astrophysical Journal and during an online news media event ( video available here )
NEWS
April 3, 2001 | From Times wire services
Forecasters said a solar flare was the most intense they have seen in the current 11-year solar cycle. Space weather forecasters in Boulder estimated its intensity at X-22 on a scale that goes only to 20 after sensors on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite could no longer measure it. Forecasters said the estimate could be off by plus or minus 2. The flare caused static on a radio frequency used to navigate boats and planes, causing flight delays.
SCIENCE
September 19, 2009 | Times Staff and Wire Reports
The sun can lash the Earth with powerful winds that can disrupt communications, aviation and power lines even when it is in the quiet phase of its 11-year solar cycle, U.S. scientists report. The Earth was bombarded with intense solar winds last year despite an unusually quiet phase for the sun, said the study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. And the prevalence of high-speed streams during the solar minimum in 2008 appeared to be related to the sun's current structure.
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