SC25 going strong

The STCE's SC25 Tracking page has been updated to reflect the latest evolution in some critical space weather parameters for the ongoing solar cycle 25 (SC25), from sunspot numbers over geomagnetic indices all the way to cosmic rays. The multiple graphs allow for a comparison with previous solar cycles at similar stages in their evolution.

After a relatively stable period in solar activity lasting from March till November 2022 and with monthly sunspot numbers between 75 and 95, solar activity increased significantly in December 2022 and January 2023. The provisional monthly sunspot number reached values of respectively 113.1 and 143.6 (SILSO), reminiscent of the previous solar cycle maximum. Based on this surge in solar activity, the Solar Cycle Science webpage (best fitting curve for a single maximum) now gives a maximum for SC25 around 145. The results from the SILSO prediction methodologies (12-month window) are somewhat diverging, but favor sunspot numbers well above the ones initially predicted by the SC25 panel, i.e. well above 115. These numbers can change further pending the evolution of solar activity in the coming months. Also, there's still a good possibility that SC25 may have a similar outlook as SC24, i.e. with 2 moderate, well-separated maxima.

The increase in sunspot numbers was accompanied by a corresponding enhancement in other solar parameters, such as the solar radio flux and the number of solar flares. Also the number of coronal mass ejections (CME) was near an average of 6/day again. The imagery underneath shows enhanced CME activity late on January 2023 as seen by the SOHO/LASCO C3 coronagraph, with comet 96P/Machholz passing by. This is a short-periodic comet with an orbital period of 5.3 years that comes very close to the Sun during each of its close encounters with our star, up to about 18 million km. Since SOHO's launch in December 1995, this was the 6th time comet Machholz was seen by SOHO's coronagraph after earlier appearances in 1996, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017 (compilation). Let's hope SOHO will still be around to observe the next passage of comet Machholz in 2028!




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