‘Powering down’ of sun will shift aurora to the poles

What happens to the Earth when the Sun’s activity hits a 300-year low, as is predicted in the next few decades?

Research published this morning in Scientific Reports by Dr Mathew Owens and Professor Mike Lockwood has the answer. And if you enjoy the occasional visit of the beautiful Northern Lights to latitudes as low as Britain, then sorry – it’s bad news.

Matt Owens talked about the research in this 1-minute video:

Among the impacts will be:

  • The Sun’s ‘atmosphere’ – the ‘bubble’ around the solar system created by the solar wind – will shrink by a third
  • The Earth’s own magnetic field will have less to fight against, making it bigger and more stable
  • Aurora – the Northern and Southern Lights – will shift towards the poles, becoming a rarity at latitudes such as Britain’s
  • More cosmic radiation – particles from space caused by distant exploding stars – will reach us, especially in polar regions
  • Coronal mass ejections from the Sun will become less frequent – but could be more powerful, and damaging to technology, when they do occur.

You can read the full paper in Scientific Reports here >

Read the news story on the University of Reading news site here >

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