A new model of the Sun’s solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat that suggest solar activity will fall by 60% during the 2030s, to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645.
The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone, caused by convecting fluid deep within the Sun. Looking ahead to the next solar cycles, the model predicts that the pair of waves become increasingly offset during Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022. During Cycle 26, which covers the decade from 2030-2040, the two waves will become exactly out of synch – peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun - and this will cause a significant reduction in solar activity. Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other leading to the properties of a ‘Maunder minimum’. When there is full phase separation, we have the conditions last seen during the Maunder minimum, 370 years ago.
Magnetic wave components appear in pairs, originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years and are offset in time. Over the cycle, the waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, predictions show an accuracy of 97%.