At the center of our solar system, the sun is a constant force keeping planets in orbit, providing Earth with just the right amount of light and warmth for life and even governing our daily schedules. While we're used to the sun rising and setting each day, the sun itself is incredibly dynamic.
Currently, it's going through a less activephase, called a solar minimum.
The sun experiences regular 11-year intervals including energetic peaks of activity, followed by low points.
During the peak, the sun showcases more sunspots and solar flares.
In a solar minimum, the sun is much quieter, meaning less sunspots and energy.
Scientists at NASA say we're currently in a "Grand Solar Minimum." The last time this occurred was between 1650 and 1715, during what's known as the Little Ice Age in Earth's Northern Hemisphere, "when combination of cooling from volcanic aerosols and low solar activity produced lower surface temperatures," according to NASA's Global Climate Change blog
But this solar minimum won't spark another ice age, they say. And that's likely due to climate change.
"Even if a Grand Solar Minimum were to last a century, global temperatures would continue to warm. Because more factors than just variations in the Sun's output change global temperatures on Earth, the most dominant of those today being the warming coming from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions."
Even when the sun is quiet during the solar minimum, it can be active in other ways, like coronal holes that open in the sun's atmosphere and send out blazing streams of energized particles flying through the solar system on rapid solar wind.
This solar minimum ends solar cycle 24. Early predictions estimated the peak of solar cycle 25 will occur in July 2025, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration