The Sun will experience solar activity similar to that witnessed in the 17th- and 18th-century when a so-called "Little Ice Age" significantly cooled northern Europe and parts of North America, solar scientists have said.
We are now able to predict solar cycles with far greater accuracy than ever before thanks to a new model which shows irregularities in the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat.
The model shows that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent between 2030 and 2040.
The conditions predicted have not been experienced since the last "Little Ice Age" which lasted from 1645 to 1715, called the Maunder Minimum, although since the earth is now warmer we are unlikely to see a return to the temperatures experienced then.
The findings are being presented by Professor Valentina Zharkova at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno.
In 1843 scientists first discovered that the sun's activity varies over a cycle of 10 to 12 years.
Fluctuations within that cycle have been difficult to predict, although many solar physicists knew that the variations were caused by a dynamo of moving fluid deep inside the sun.
Professor Zharkova’s team of researchers has found that adding a second dynamo close to the surface of the sun, creates a far more accurate model.
The scientists found magnetic waves in two different layers of the sun’s interior which fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the sun.
“Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97 per cent," Professor Zharkova said.
The most surprising facts about the sun
The most surprising facts about the sun
1/8 An Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) image of a huge, handle-shaped prominence
The sun makes up 99.8 per cent of the mass of the entire solar system. The sun’s core, although it only makes up around 2 percent of the sun's volume, holds nearly half of its mass
NASA/European Space Agency
2/8 The quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun.
The sun is travelling at 220 kilometres per second. It takes the 225-250 million years to complete an orbit of the centre of the Milky Way
3/8 Bright, glowing arcs of gas flow around sunspots
The sun’s magnetic fields generate solar wind - streams of charged particles, which travel through the solar system at 450 kilometres per second. The winds cause radio interference, the northern lights and tails on comets, as well as alter the trajectory of space crafts
Goddard Space Flight Center
4/8 A huge X-class solar flare burst from a large, active sunspot
As the sun has no solid body - it is made up of 92.1 percent hydrogen and 7.8 percent helium - different parts of the sun rotate at different rates. At the equator, the sun spins once about every 25 days, but at its poles the sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days
5/8 Hot coronal loops which span 30 or more times the diameter of planet Earth extend above the visible surface of the Sun
One day, the sun will be about the size of Earth. After its red giant phase - when the sun would have expanded, consuming Mercury, Venus and Earth - the sun will collapse, retaining its enormous mass, but shrinking to the approximate volume of our planet to become a white dwarf. It is currently categorised as a yellow dwarf and at 4.5 billion years old is currently middle aged
6/8 A full-disk multiwavelength extreme ultraviolet image of the sun. False colors trace different gas temperatures
A complex internal mechanism about which little is known causes the reverse in polarity
7/8 The size of the Earth in comparison to the sun
With a circumference of 2,715,395.6 miles, one million Earths could fit inside the sun. | 8. The temperature at the sun's core is about 15 million °C while its surface temperature is 5500 °C
8/8 Combined ultra violet images of different temperatures of the sun
Sunspots - visible dark patches that appear on the sun’s surface - are temporary phenomena whereby intense magnetic activity form areas of reduced surface temperature. | 10. Solar flares shoot out from the sun’s surface during when magnetic energy is released by the during magnetic storms. They are the most violent eruptions in the solar system
The magnetic wave patterns show that there will be fewer sunspots in the next two solar cycles. Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022 and Cycle 26, from 2030 to 2040 will both have a significant reduction in solar activity.Reuse content