back to article Sun's solar wind hits 50-year low

The Sun's solar wind output has fallen to the lowest level since "accurate readings" became available, and the drop may have an effect on the natural shielding which protects the solar system from cosmic rays, NASA reports. The data comes from the venerable Ulysses spacecraft, the joint NASA-European Space Agency mission …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Paul
    Paris Hilton

    It's Bush's fault

    It's a symptom of global warming. Now it's affected the sun and we're really in big trouble. See what happens when George Bush fails to act?

  2. Paul Stephenson

    Does this mean

    that some new group of whingers will appear ranting about how we are now not just affecting our planet's o-zone but now also reducing the protective effects of the sun, despite no obvious link?

    Mine's the one with the cosmic ray protective lining.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Mr Holmes must be constipated

    Really... it's well known that sun spots have been at an all time low just recently and it looks like they're starting up again.

    Sun spots are the source of solar flares, which are the source of solar winds.

    No sunspots = no solar winds.

    The last time this sort of thing happened, it was shortly followed by a period of increased solar activity. It also seems to coincide with cycles in (government propaganda about) global warming.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Global warming

    Can it just be a coincidence that this coincides with the increase in carbon emissions :-)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How can we tax this?

    I suppose that this will be heralded as yet another effect of rising carbon dioxide levels.

  6. Adrian Barnett
    Thumb Up

    Hollywood take note

    Sounds like this could spawn a sequel to 'Sunshine'.

    Will Smith and a crew of plucky astronauts take a container of artificial solar particles beyond the orbit of Pluto, and release them to save the Earth! Along the way there is love, death, sex, horror and a diversion to land on Io to refuel with hydrocarbons (leaving one brave soul behind because there was an oxygen leak and there's not enough air left for everybody).

  7. Chris


    So, an increased chance of 'single event upsets' in microprocessors, memory and other electronics?

    Yet another handy excuse! :-)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flame on?

    Hmm - more Cosmic Rays + Geeks = ?

    Mine's the coat with extra shielding...

  9. Nuno

    all the same

    So they say that the particles from our sun are now less intense, so we might get more particles from other stars... what is the difference?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all our fault

    Oh dear, it must be caused by humans. Not only have we doomed our precious planet by causing global warming, we have depleted our Sun's solar wind too. We are all going to die... (hopefully at the end of the next 50 years in my case, peacefully in bed).

  11. Anonymous Coward

    interesting history for the Europeans

    >> The data comes from the venerable Ulysses spacecraft, the joint NASA-European Space

    >> Agency mission launched in 1990

    Ulysses was originally "International Solar Polar" in which there would be 2 spacecraft (one ESA, one NASA) flying the same orbit but 180deg apart. Of course NASA didn't uphold its end of the bargain (sound familiar??) and ESA said "OK, then we're renaming it and it's OUR mission now" and they run it and do all the science - So it's not really joint anything except in NASA PR releases.

    I think it would be interesting for our stupid government not to grant the Soyuz waiver, and watch our manned space program grind to a total halt.

  12. Echowitch

    OMG The sky is falling

    Here we go again. If it gets quiet for a bit we have some more crackpot worrying from NASA about how we are all going to die. Or its the reporters who make it sound that way. As they said its the lowest since records began, which only goes back about 50 years. Im quite it has dipped lower and for longer and and higher as well on many occasions over its millions of years of life.

    It can't be that everything is happening in our life time !!!

    Alien face, as on reflection it might be all their fault.

  13. Tom Paine

    Link to climate change?


    If it turns out that we're entering a Dalton Minimum type period (decades of low solar activity) it's true that this might reduce the solar output (and thus the watts per-square-meter input into earth's climate.) As anthropogenic greenhouse gases are keeping the temperature above what it would be without them (which is uncontroversial outside crackpot circles), the two effects may cancel each other out to some extent - for the duration of the reduced solar activity. Once the minimum ends the actual temperature returns to the long term trend ("with hilarious consequences!")

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Solar wind at all time low?

    Need more beans...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    50 years of data isn't really enough to draw conclusions from

    for an object that's some 4.5 billion years old

  16. Tom Paine

    Fashionably late

    P.S.: A new sunspot has shown up.

  17. Justin White

    Re: It's Bush's fault

    Guess we should line up the CEOs of GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, BMW, etc. to punish them too. Clearly, we're now so important in the universe that we can destroy the Sun with nothing but our autos!

    Mines the one with extra cosmic ray protection in the lining...

  18. Onionman
    Thumb Up


    Please supply one new keyboard, mine's a bit coffee-stained.


  19. Terrence Bayrock

    Cosmic Rays & Global Warming

    It is interesting to note that there are some studies that link cloud formation to cosmic ray activity.

    This effect is apparently impossible to predict/ model with any degree of certainty.

    Wherever you are on the anthropogenic climate factors, this issue of external effects swamping man-made effects cannot help but give pause to those who would contend that man is the primary and dominating factor.

    I personally think that those who assert discernible man-made influences on climate are arrogant in their belief about man's importance.

  20. Aron
    Paris Hilton

    America's fault

    This is the fault of human carbon output, capitalism, Lehman Bros, George Bush, Israel and Gordon Brown. We must scrap development now. Choose BBC branded Green Islamo-Communism now!!

    Paris, because she would. Or maybe she's smart and wouldn't.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    The end of golbal warming is here.

    The average global temperature has been dropping steadily since 1998.

    If we don't get some solar activity soon, it's back to the little ice age circa 1600s-1800s. Time to buy a snow blower.

    Come on Sun, we need those spots!!!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    2 + 2 = ? (A title is *still* required)

    > Ulysses is finally "succumbing to the harsh environment of space"

    > When the results were compared with observations from the previous solar cycle, the strength of the solar wind pressure and the magnetic field embedded in the solar wind were found to have decreased by 20 per cent. The field strength near the spacecraft has decreased by 36 per cent."

    So maybe just the respective sensors have degraded sensitivity by 20% and 36% since last time round, perhaps? Did anyone stop to rule out the simple explanation?

    Oh, and I found a bug in your comment form script. It's telling me "A title is required", but I've got "2 + 2 = ?" in the title field. Overzealous input sanitisation?

  23. Matthew

    It's going to get colder

    And windier.

    The return of The Tempest.

    You read it here first!

  24. Pete Silver badge

    just wait until it goes into reverse

    and starts sucking us all in

  25. Vendicar Decarian

    Solar avtivity down - Planet getting warmer.

    Solar activity has declined slightly over the past three solar cycles - not only magnetic activity but also total emissions.

    Over this time, the Earth has experienced a pronounced warming that has continued through the last 10 years.

    Wag the Dog TV, produced a documentary claiming the opposite - that decreases in solar activity would decrease the earth's temperature.

    This is hardly a surprise as the company was found to have doctored it's graphics, omitted data that was contrary to it's proposition, and knowingly mischaracterized the testimony of some of the scientists it interviewed.

    You can see the fraud that was perpetrated in the final result, called "The Global Warming Swindle"

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Oh -- *That* Sun....

    I thought for a minute the article was about the other Sun, this being an IT journal and all....

  27. J

    @all the same

    No, not necessarily the same. I'm not a physicist, but has that ever stopped anyone on the intertubes? So here it goes. Particles were not all created equal, as weren't stars... Otherwise why do you think NASA would be worried about the astronauts, if it was all the same?

    See, a big, mean star (or other body) can output particles with different levels of energy from our little, mediocre (thankfully for us) Sun -- and to go interstellar distances with some punch, they have to be powerful. Like gamma rays and stuff. And anyone who's watched the Hulk knows that is not something to be joking about when you are chilling in outer space.

    I for one welcome our new galactic cosmic ray overlords.

  28. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    More and more tiresome

    "I personally think that those who assert discernible man-made influences on climate are arrogant in their belief about man's importance."

    Why are so many first-graders in this forum? Are the scools all closed, yoofs on the street, profs on strike or what?

    Or is Andrew's Global Warming Satirorama attractive to deniers?

  29. Webster Phreaky
    Paris Hilton

    Barak Hussein Osama Obama is ALREADY "On it"

    He just said he can't take a break from his EMPTY SUIT Campaign (the US economy wasn't important enough either), but he and Biden are definitely "On it", and "All Over it" and it's all W's fault with support from McCain, so "Just Call Me" he says and maybe Osama Obama will take a break from memorizing his debate replies since Obama can't use a TELEPROMPTER!

    Obama, an Empty Suit ..... but a pretty Empty Suit.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    @More and more tiresome

    ad hominem attacks, last refugee of the incompetent.

    Never stated that he was a "denier", only questioning the scientific basis for some of the assertions made, although the environmental brown-shirts would have it that anybody disputing thier theory are loons........

    "change, not stability, is the defining characteristic of the global climate, with naturally occurring events (e.g., volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis) much more likely to affect climate than anything humans do"

    BTW, the word schools has an "h" in it................

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tom Paine

    Bang on the money. Very timely find.

    Was it just me or was it impossible to read that Universe Today article with anything other than a Patrick Moore narration (albeit silent of course)?

    So Solar Cycle 24's starting is it? Whatever that is. Time to save some dosh to watch the northern light show for 2010-2012 maybe. It's meant to be pretty good for then. That's if the global financial institutions don't melt down or bankrupt each and every one of us with their requests for extremely large (and flippin' cheeky) public handouts.

    Patrick Moore plays the xylophone...!

  32. Dr. Mouse

    @Paul Stephenson

    "Does this mean that some new group of whingers will appear ranting about how we are now not just affecting our planet's o-zone but now also reducing the protective effects of the sun, despite no obvious link?"

    Yar, no land lubber. It be the lack of pirates that be doing it. All we pirates know the heliosphere is a noodley appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, ye must all pray for forgiveness for breaking the 8 I'd really rather you didn'ts, me hearties, and he shall once more protect us.

  33. Michael Nielsen


    Proponents of the androgenic global warming, have denied suggestions by different researchers that indicate an increase in cosmic radiation might contribute to an heating effect (due to water vapour in the atmosphere), rather than the logical expected cooling, by lower solar output. As I remember it the claim was that there was no correlation in the solar data and current atmospheric observations.

    Then this information appears that the sun is at it's lowest activity in nearly 50 years, and now has one of the least active cycles ever measured, meanwhile we are supposedly seeing a global heating trend on earth, which strangely enough co-insides with heating on the moons of Jupitor, Saturn and so forth.

    Suddenly claims that global temperatures have decreased since 1998 appears, rather than the hype about temperatures have been increasing.. Though every graph I've seen published has shown an increase, odd.

    Perhaps the censors on the spacecraft has degraded, perhaps not, but other sources apparently have noted the sun sport observations support the case.

    Coincidence ?

  34. Andy

    Going green?

    Maybe someone out there was listening to the TV/Radio ads, and just turned the heating down a couple of degrees.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You used to be funny, what happened?

  36. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    @Terrence Bayrock

    Completely agree with your last sentence. I've been saying the same for ages.

  37. bert Plucker
    Thumb Up

    manned mission to the sun

    We need to dispatch a manned mission to the sun to fix this.

    I propose various wall street types and the generally bewildered looking pres for the mission.

    All with fat bonus's on return of course....

  38. Aron
    IT Angle

    Vendicar Decarian

    No one buys your shit. Reg readers aren't the dumb crowd you're looking for.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Go On - Bait those deniers!

    Funny did a search for the word 'climate' in that article, not a single hit. Plenty of climate paranoia in the comments though!

    Boohoo everything's against us! It's all about taxes!! Actually it's all about me!!! Those enlightened and learned scientists who've prostituted themselves to raise my taxes (unlike those on the other side who've prostituted themselves for profit - Big Oil, High Street 'greenwashers' anyone?) suggesting I modify my own selfish behaviour and juvenile prejudices, how dare they!

  40. Chris

    RE: 50 years of data isn't really enough to draw conclusions from

    /holds hand up towards sun and notices that I can feel the heat from here (just about =)

    Considering that the sun is really rather far away, I conclude that sun must be pretty damn toasty!

  41. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "we are in a period of minimal activity that has stretched on longer than anyone anticipated"

    Hmm, so much for those who want to equate "global warming" with increased solar activity.

    But, as usual, someone will come along and claim the reverse - and who will the public choose to trust ?

    Someone might want to make a backup of the records of solar activity - in case some governmental organization decides to fudge the numbers again to correspond to the perception of the day.

    Or is it too late for that already ?

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't there an article recently

    saying that global average temperatures have fallen slightly for the last two years? With climate change fascists claiming it was 'just a blip'?

  43. Anonymous John

    I for one,

    welcome our new incoming cosmic ray overlords.

  44. Mark


    If the Sun starts its cycle and becomes more active, then yes, it will be a blip.

    Unless you think that once the sun has gone to a minimum it can never go up again.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022