The sun has produced its biggest solar flare since October 2017, potentially suggesting it is emerging from the solar minimum. The activity comes as scientists record an unusually low number of sunspots. So far, 2020 has had one of the lowest sunspot rates since the start of the Space Age. NASA’s Webb Will Study the ‘Building Blocks’ of Our Solar System https://t.co/7c2F7epToL This thing can see deeper into the past than HUBBLE 🤓✨🤗 I bet what this thing sees will make those preví to the vision rethink the definition of LIFE ✨how exiting 2021 🌚🌞🪐— Michelle Rodriguez (@MRodOfficial) May 27, 2020 This could be a sign that the Sun has already entered its new solar cycle and will be ramping up to a higher level of activity in a few years, as scientists have been anticipating. The Sun seems pretty consistent to us here on Earth on a day-to-day basis, but over the years, astronomers have ascertained that it actually goes through 11-year activity cycles, with a clearly defined minimum and maximum.This hot plasma is tracing magnetic field lines that shoot out from the sun’s active regions. A break in these loops becomes a solar flare: highly charged particles that go speeding out into space, bumping into Earth’s magnetic field, forming aurora at the poles Pic Nasa Goddard pic.twitter.com/Dsz0QAHFYt— Alfons López Tena (@alfonslopeztena) May 22, 2020 Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. Larger solar flares can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.Currently, scientists are paying close attention to the sunspot number as it’s key to determining the dates of solar minimum, which is the official start of Solar Cycle 25. Scientists need to know when these solar cycles are occurring in order to protect the planet’s radio communications, as well as ensuring the safety of astronauts and satellites outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, because of the damage that they can have on electronics.The task is a long one: scientists need six months of solar observations and sunspot measurements in order to know when a minimum has occurred, and it could take another six months or even a year after that to know when it is passed.