Aims: Although the time of the Maunder minimum (1645-1715) is widely known as a period of extremely low solar activity, it is still being debated whether solar activity during that period might have been moderate or even higher than the current solar cycle #24. We have revisited all existing evidence and datasets, both direct and indirect, to assess the level of solar activity during the Maunder minimum.
Methods: We discuss the East Asian naked-eye sunspot observations, the telescopic solar observations, the fraction of sunspot active days, the latitudinal extent of sunspot positions, auroral sightings at high latitudes, cosmogenic radionuclide data as well as solar eclipse observations for that period. We also consider peculiar features of the Sun (very strong hemispheric asymmetry of the sunspot location, unusual differential rotation and the lack of the K-corona) that imply a special mode of solar activity during the Maunder minimum.
Results: The level of solar activity during the Maunder minimum is reassessed on the basis of all available datasets.
Conclusions: We conclude that solar activity was indeed at an exceptionally low level during the Maunder minimum. Although the exact level is still unclear, it was definitely lower than during the Dalton minimum of around 1800 and significantly below that of the current solar cycle #24. Claims of a moderate-to-high level of solar activity during the Maunder minimum are rejected with a high confidence level.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- September 2015
- Sun: activity;
- solar-terrestrial relations;
- history and philosophy of astronomy;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- Accepted to Astron. Astrophys